Innovation: Life Force of Leadership

Steve Jobs had envisioned “a computer for the rest of us” and ignited a revolution in personal computers.  Four decades later, Apple is the most valuable brand in the world.

Jack Ma had dreamed of helping small and medium enterprises do business beyond the borders of China.  An Asian startup in the late 90s, Alibaba is now one of the largest e-commerce businesses across continents.

Mark Zuckerberg had created a university social networking site at the start of the millennium.  It morphed into Facebook, continuously redefining the way humans connect.  Today it has over 2 billion users.

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Three great leaders of all time.  Their inspiring rise to the top and the creation of their multibillion-dollar empires drive so many to mine their stories for a success equation.

Sheer genius.  Unwavering commitment.  Brutal hard work.  Inescapable destiny.  One among or all perhaps.  But one thing is certain, the equation will not be complete without their great passion for innovation.  Innovation that started with a vision, deliberate or latent at first.  Innovation that disrupted conventions – shook up the status quo.  The result:  unparalleled achievements in their respective industries.

Innovation is a life force of leadership.  An organization that aims to breed strong leaders must cultivate among them the mindset for innovation.  As aptly put by Steve Jobs: “Innovation is the difference between a leader and a follower.”

Here are checkpoints you can use as leaders, reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses in furthering innovation in your organization:

Setting a Vision

  • Are you a passionate explorer in pursuit of endless possibilities?
  • Are you a courageous change agent, who sees through the lens of continuous improvement?
  • Do you have the pulse for the marketplace and the ability to spot trends even before your competitors do?
  • Do you excite people by the purpose of what you do?

Disrupting Conventions 

  • Do you make space for new ideas?
  • Do you take leaps to collaborate and discover?
  • Do you foster an entrepreneurial mindset?
  • Are you able to spot talents with entrepreneurial bent (those who are optimistic, persevering, pro-active self-starters)?
  • Do you manage cognitive diversity in your teams?
  • Do you create an environment of psychological safety, so your collaborators can take calculated risks within the parameters of their roles?

Innovation in Action

  • Do you move people to action?
  • Do you empower people to take ownership of their roles?
  • Do you discourage paralysis by analysis, especially when it hinders critical next steps?
  • Can you stand against the inefficiencies resulting from bureaucracies?
  • Are you able to course-correct? Do you check at critical stages in the process – what you must keep doing, start doing, stop doing?

Yes to most of the checkpoint questions is a positive signal – but there is always room for improvement.  TalkShop has designed the program Management Communication and Leadership Training to make current and potential leaders be more self-aware of and to enhance the inter-intrapersonal skills they need in a business environment that demands brave choices for innovation.   These skills include: Communication, Facilitation, Negotiation, Influence and Motivation, Decision Making, Planning, Integrity Building, Teamwork, and Stress Management.

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