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Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Excepti... ((TOP))

This paper explores the important role of leadership in the innovation process of organizations. It argues that while culture, strategy, technology, and other management tools are important in generating effectiveness in the 21st century, creativity and innovation are what drive organizational success in many sectors. However, for creativity to take place, leaders must actively implement strategies that encourage it. Therefore, leadership is the catalyst and source of organizational creativity and innovation. In essence, for organizations to be able to achieve constant innovation, leaders must establish an environment conducive to renewal and build organizational culture that encourages creativity and innovation. Organizational creativity also depends on how leaders encourage and manage diversity in the organization, as well as develop an effective leadership structure that sustains the innovation process.

Out Think: How Innovative Leaders Drive Excepti...

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Scholars have shown how organizational structure, strategy, technology, culture, and other management tools help bring effectiveness and competitive advantage to organizations.3 They also show that in the 21st-century organizational environment, creativity and innovation are the primary sources of competitive advantage. However, these authors say little about the role of leadership in the innovative process. Creative and effective organizations do not emerge by accident. They require leaders to drive and control deliberate changes in structure, culture, and process in order to transform them into creative, effective, and productive ones. Even though many organizations look for competitive advantage in their structure, strategy, technology, and culture, leadership is the most important source of competitive advantage. Organizational leaders usually decide what happens in the organization and give the direction, vision, and momentum that bring success. Therefore, leaders are the catalyst that create and manage the environment, organizational culture, and strategies that encourage and sustain innovation, effectiveness, and success in the organization.

This heroic approach to leadership has little chance of bringing innovation and renewal because leaders do not single-handedly lead organizations to greatness. Rather, leadership involves many individuals with various tools and skills who together transform the organization.17 The alternative form of leadership is that it is not the ability of one person to take charge, but the ability to inspire, empower, and exert broad influence in the organization. Contemporary leaders know that no individual has all the ideas, the skills, and time to carry out the complex tasks of contemporary leadership. They know that organizations will not survive if their leadership is limited to the top leaders because leadership opportunities exist at every level of the organization. Therefore, for an organization to become innovative and successful, it must benefit from the creativity of all its members. Organizations can achieve this by harnessing all its leadership abilities. Everyone in the organization in some way needs to be involved in its leadership.18

According to Raelin, 21st-century organizations are knowledge-based and require that everyone share the experience of serving as a leader; this means sharing power, responsibility, values and aspirations, and working together to bring success to the organization.19 When this happens, the organization gets rid of a suffocating dependence of the followers on the top leader, which releases them to contribute their natural abilities to the organization. Tichy maintains that many creative and successful organizations today depend on multiple sources of effective leadership at all levels rather than maintaining a command-and-control leadership structure that often stifles creativity.20 Therefore, the best way to build an innovative, vibrant, and effective organization is to diffuse leadership and empower everyone through training and coaching so that they become creative and effective leaders themselves.21

Furthermore, leaders can be more effective in encouraging creativity by treating organizations as living systems filled with the innovative dynamics and potential that exists in all of the people. It is this creative potential that the leaders engage to tackle and solve organizational issues. In essence, leaders must stop treating the people in the organization as machines, but rather as living beings who work in organizations that are living systems. This worldview helps leaders create organizations filled with followers who are capable of adapting, alert to changes in their environment, and able to innovate purposefully.25 However, the only way leaders can harness this innovative spirit is when they invite everyone to participate in solutions and in the creation of the organizational processes. This means that the leaders must engage the whole system in order to harness the intelligence and creativity that exists throughout the organization.

Transactional leadership is called a telling management style, because the leader tells subordinates what to do. A transactional approach upholds the status quo. Transactional leaders focus on achieving short-term goals and performing tasks correctly and to specifications. They typically don't drive change but follow established protocols and procedures.

Transformational leaders have more personal connection with subordinates. They are often more hands-off and have a charismatic approach that intrinsically motivates employees without rewards and punishments. This type of leadership drives change. These leaders do well in situations where expectations aren't always clear and rigid, and there is more room to test and experiment -- such as in Agile and DevOps implementations.

Innovative organizations have processes that drive innovation. Their individuals and teams use a structured creative process. There are many out there, such as Lean Six Sigma, Design Thinking, TRIZ. We find the most robust process is the Universal Creative Process. Its seven steps help you choose the right problem to solve, generate lots of ideas, improve those ideas, prototype the best ideas, create a plan for implementation, and monitor progress. Also, innovative organizations have processes to select and fund new ideas. You can learn more about how to select and fund innovation. When there are processes to develop, select and fund new ideas, innovation will follow.

Design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees, freelancers and leaders who seek to infuse it into every level of an organization. This widespread adoption of design thinking will drive the creation of alternative products and services for both business and society.

Innovation starts with the leadership qualities of the founder or CEO. Founders and CEOs of innovative organizations have to be passionate about their work, display a positive and optimistic outlook, have a real drive and clear vision, be forward thinking, and above all embrace change.

Leaders have to be bold thinkers and from the top-down or across the board, they play a primary role in fostering innovative organizations. Innovation is the high-performance mantra of business leaders.

People perform best when they are driven by inspiration and encouraged to push their boundaries and think outside the box. But employees cannot do this when they are being micromanaged. Employees need to feel independent enough to own their innovative thinking and to pursue the ideas they are passionate about. In fact, if management effectively fosters a creative and open environment, innovation will happen naturally.

Innovative leadership focuses on how to succeed in unpredictable circumstances and how to foster an environment conducive to innovation in a healthcare organization. Innovative thinking lies at the heart of innovative leadership.

Innovative leaders work to create an organizational culture in which everyone solves problems using innovative thinking. This involves developing methods that encourage staff members to think differently about how they face challenges, as well as helping them invent ways to handle limited or stressed resources.

Finding the best ways to incorporate emerging technologies calls for innovative thinking. To tap into the creativity of their staff, healthcare executives may find it helpful to use an innovative leadership approach. Collectively, staff members and leadership can explore the benefits of emerging technologies and come up with inventive ways to improve their organizations.

These traits can help unite people around a common goal. They also allow charismatic leaders to motivate their staff members and get them invested in the visions they set forth. Because charismatic leaders are mission-driven they often succeed at instituting needed changes in their healthcare organizations.

Charismatic leadership can be personality-driven. As such, healthcare executives who rely on this leadership style must not let their personalities sideline sound business practices. Due to their popularity, charismatic leaders may not hear critical feedback. However, constructive criticism plays an important role in the success of a healthcare organization. For this reason, charismatic leaders must seek out criticism and create opportunities for feedback.

In fact, many argue that innovation is the most important driver of macroeconomics today. That's why a group of senior executives and business experts gathered recently in Chicago to discuss innovation, leadership, and the new economy of creativity, knowledge, and invention -- and how to focus these amorphous concepts into real business dollars. Their insights are relevant to executives from businesses large and small, global and local.

If innovation is today's hot commodity, how can business leaders harvest it? They must create conditions in which innovation can thrive in their companies. Below are the four drivers of innovation, as identified by executives and thinkers who spoke at the event. 041b061a72


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