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Being Innovative: The Sign of A Good Leader

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Creativity is often discussed in business, but isn’t always valued. Today’s guest post from Sasha Snow argues that innovation is a hallmark of great leadership.

Jobs in the corporate world have always been competitive, but many companies are now in search of not just skilled professionals with credentials, but also innovative individuals who are able to contribute to their business strategies for the success of their organization. An approach called Innovation Leadership has been popularized by Dr. David Gliddon of Penn State University. This is a process where an organization influences employees to practice innovation to produce creative ideas, products, services, and solutions. According to Gliddon:

The need for innovation in organizations has resulted in a new focus on the role of leaders in shaping the nature and success of creative efforts.

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© Flickr user Oliver Thompson

What does it mean to be innovative?

Generally, innovation refers to the process of creating a fresh outlook, building new ideas, and improving existing services that are expected to increase the success, efficiency, and productivity of an organization. It does not require someone to invent an item or product—instead; they are expected to adapt by building strategies that deliver results to the company they represent.

In being innovative, a person is helping create a culture led by innovative thinkers and creative problem solvers that boost their business in all aspects and areas. These traits are also what many companies are looking for in a trusted leader.

Here are some of the tips offered by the most innovative leaders in the world today as listed by Forbes, which can inspire you to excel in your respective field:

  • Nitin Paranjpe, CEO of Hindustan Unilever: “Typically, in an entrepreneur, ambition outstrips resources and that inequality forces the entrepreneur to think differently. We’ve learned to innovate by raising our ambitions and constraining our resources.”
  • Robert McDonald, President of Procter & Gamble: “We’re creating a technology-enabled culture through which consumers, employees and business partners seamlessly collaborate and interact from anywhere and at any time. And we’re learning to operate on a demand-driven real-time, forward-looking basis every day.”
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google: “At the launch, the trick is not to get expectations too high. What you don’t want to see is the headline, ‘Facebook Killer Fails.’ We’re really trying to define [social software] in a new way.”

What are the traits of an innovative leader?

There are common qualities that you can start practicing in order to present yourself as an innovator in your organization. Here are some of the characteristics of an innovative leader:

1. Strong network connections – A leader must always have a good set network that he/she can rely on. Connections are important to the growth and success of the business as well as a way to show your capabilities to other brands. However, avoid desperately looking for attention as that is not the intention of networking. The goal is to gather as many people possible to know who you are, what you do, and what you can offer. Build relationships rather than sales, and expect that they will be the one trusting you to close a deal with their company.

2. Adaptable to tech changes – Start leading your team by being a good leader and showing them that change is part of success. Presenting your capabilities to adapt to change shows a myriad of other things you can do for the success of the company. One of the latest business trends is the BYOD (bring your own device). By showing your willingness to aopt various technologies at work, especially as smartphones become smarter with productivity apps, you are showing that you wish to stay ahead of the curve in the business world. New handsets like the Galaxy S6 Edge also come with mobile payment systems which have the capacity to allow the device to make quick payments at NFC-approved shops.

3. Be observant of your surroundings – Being aware of what’s around you is key to aligning all platforms and environments (office setup, team connection, outside network, and business development) for success. You have to understand how each works in order to successfully create plans to benefit the company. Observing past experiences (success and failure) can also contributed to finding strategies that could potentially work in the future.

How do you innovate in your current work environment? Share your stories with us!

Sasha Snow has been a certified tech blogger since 2009, writing topics about technology, latest innovations, business, consumer-owned devices, lifestyle and more. During her spare time, she travels and visits different countries to search for the best beach along with her lonely guitar.

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