The Modern Leader's Role in Sparking Innovation

December 16, 2022
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The Modern Leader's Role in Sparking Innovation

Innovation is necessary to keep a competitive edge in your industry, which is why modern leaders are focusing a lot of attention on innovation. In one of my recent interviews with Hamza Khan, he gave a beautiful definition of what innovation means: the ability to anticipate and create (or respond to) change before it is required.

This means innovation comes in several stages:

  1. A trigger, trend, or need for something new.
  2. The creation of something new: an idea, thought, process, product, service, etc.—that will satisfy the demand.
  3. The adoption of a significant size of the population of something new you’ve created, because they’ve recognized its value to satisfy the need.

In this rapidly changing world of technology, what are our roles as leaders in creating innovation?

From a top-down approach, one of the primary roles of a leader is to provide the organization’s innovation goals that drive growth and spearhead creating the strategic objectives and key results. They are the ones to cast the vision and set clear expectations for the team.

Leaders are also responsible for ensuring that enough resources are available to support the team and managing those resources during the innovating and creating process. They are also responsible for creating reward programs that will help motivate the team.

Lastly, it is up to the leader to delegate tasks and grant autonomy to key individuals involved in the innovation project. In other words, it is a leader’s job to inspire, motivate, equip, and empower the team to make innovation possible.

In a bottom-up approach, a leader’s role is a bit different. Often, they are responsible for creating the team as well as delegating tasks. On the front lines of innovation, they have to create an environment that is conducive to creativity and facilitates healthy brainstorming.

The leader must know how to balance challenging everyone to come up with better ideas, mediate debates, encourage flexibility and openness, all the while maintaining harmonious relations between the team, even when their ideas had to clash in order to create something better.

Leaders are also called to oversee problem-solving, discerning which members' expertise would be most beneficial to coming up with solutions, and deciding what the next steps are. And when the creative process has begun to take its toll on the members, it is the leader’s duty to motivate them.

“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”—Ken Robinson.

Innovation can be difficult but very rewarding. There are tons of factors at play that can impact the direction of innovation, including the diversity of thoughts and experiences within your organization, and how conducive your work culture is in inspiring, facilitating, and fostering creativity and innovation.

The most important role of a leader is to get out of the way of his people so that they are able to do what they are hired to do, to direct and make sure that the team is aligned with the goal, to protect their work progress, and to foster their talents so that they are ready for the next round of innovation.

Thanks for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”