All leadership should be by nature disruptive. Leadership always takes people and companies from where they are to where they want to be. In this sense, an innovative leader is necessary to make changes and innovate in companies, otherwise the company would be destined to disappear from the map.
Today, innovative leadership can be the factor for a company to have motivated teams, products that captivate the market and satisfied customers. In other words, the importance of a non-traditional and disruptive leadership style is vital for all the participants and elements of a company.
Innovative leaders must go in search of innovation that generates competitive advantages, they must manage the procedures that maintain the structure of the company.
What is thought leadership?
It is the one that uses the elements of innovation and creativity to apply them in the work with the people, products, processes and projects of a company. Normally, the innovative leadership style flees from traditional leadership conventions to find new methods of solving organizational problems, establishing interpersonal relationships and managing workflows.
In that sense, a leader who practices this management style meets the requirements of the concept of innovation. In this regard, I remind you that "innovating means breaking paradigms, transforming processes and ways of doing things, using our resources and creativity to come up with new ideas and solutions, and applying them in daily life or in a company".
The innovative leadership model is always based on a permanent willingness to adapt to change and experiment with new concepts. These traits of thought leadership can be clearly seen in business figures like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Indeed, at Tesla and Apple, these founders challenged preconceived methodologies and led teams that created innovations as disruptive as self-driving vehicles or the iPhone.
We have found that leaders are key to the success of an innovation program and to creating a culture of innovation. Unfortunately, most leaders have never received training that allows them to assess and model the behaviors that make an effective innovation leader, which are:
a) inspire by example
b) Show commitment to innovation
c) question the status quo
d) Constantly communicate innovation
Companies must identify and develop their innovation leaders to inspire them to support the company's innovation agenda and the implementation of ideas in their areas of work.
Characteristics that distinguish all innovative leaders
As we have previously pointed out; For companies to change, the first to change are their leaders. You already know that famous phrase of the genius Albert Einstein: "If you are looking for results, do not always do the same thing". These are the 5 characteristics that define an excellent innovative leader.
1. Promote creativity
In a company with thought leadership, employees, managers, and team members are driven to come up with creative ideas without fear of error. This innovative leadership formula is applied, for example, in Mastercard. The financial services company has a "team laboratory", where workers meet to carry out innovation sprints for 4-5 days, in which they make use of brainstorming dynamics and other creative work techniques.
2. Promote the culture of innovation in the company
Leadership as innovation is one of the flags of organizational culture. And the most representative example is Google. Its 70/20/10 model consists in that 70% of the projects must be dedicated to the core of the business, 20% partially related to the core of the business and 10% can be own developments. This promotes a culture of innovation where your teams risk experimenting and practicing divergent thinking.
3. Create an attractive workspace for workers
All innovative leadership starts from a workspace that invites, intellectually and physically, creation, disruption and innovation. A visible example of this characteristic is that of LEGO. The work spaces of this company are designed to provide opportunities for innovative projects, and make its employees activate their creativity and stay aligned with the engine that drives the purpose of the brand.
4. They are not afraid of failure
Taking risks can lead to mistakes being made on occasion. But for an innovative leader, he must be risk tolerant in projects and if we talk about the mistakes made by his team members. When tasks or projects are undertaken aimed at obtaining innovative results; there is inevitably the risk of being wrong. Always keep in mind that success in innovation is never 100% guaranteed.
5. Stimulate collaboration
Collaborative work is one of the important characteristics of innovative leadership. Since results depend on the deployment of creative ideas, an innovative leader knows that this is only achieved when there is an integration of opinions and resources. For this reason, companies like Pixar, where creativity plays a fundamental role, promote processes to nurture collective ideas based on initial feedback among colleagues. These collaborative processes culminate in more original animated film products.
Example of innovative leaders in the world
In 2022, Forbes Magazine produced a specialized list with metrics that measure the growth in sales and the level of innovation of the top 100 companies and also a list with the top 10 leaders in innovation.
Companies today are demanding that the top executives of a company become aware of a fundamental responsibility in a process as critical as the advancement of innovation. The perception of the collaborators does not admit that there is delegation of attributions on this responsibility.
To conclude this article and its purpose is that you understand what innovative leadership means, what its real applications are and how you can implement it in your own business project. Traditional practices, team building and work dynamics need to be reinvented from within. These innovative processes must necessarily be aligned with the purposes of the company.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I would love to leave your comment here.