8 Steps to be an Innovative Leader

8 Steps to be an Innovative Leader

8 Steps to be an Innovative Leader
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    by Sara J. Baker, Ed.D.

    Are you ready to be an innovative leader in the 21st century? If so, then read on. In this article, we will discuss how to create a culture of innovation in your organization and what it takes to be an innovative leader. We will also give you some tips for designing your own creative solution that can help solve any problem or issue that arises.

    So, what does it take to be an innovative leader? Leaders need to create a culture of risk-taking, which will allow people to think outside the box and explore new ideas without fear of failure or ridicule from others. And finally, leaders need to take risks themselves in order to set an example for their employees. For example, if you want your team members to be more innovative, try brainstorming new ideas yourself and see how they respond.

    Here are eight steps that you can take to become an innovative leader in your company:

    What is Innovation?

    An innovative company is one that can bring change to the world rather than following trends or ideas from other industries. A business becomes innovative when it tackles new issues from different angles–even from unlikely places. Innovation can be created through collaboration between people with different perspectives. That means the more diverse your workforce, the more innovative your company will be. Innovation also requires a change of perspective and a departure from the status quo.

    An innovative company is one that can bring change to the world rather than following trends or ideas from other industries.
    An innovative company is one that can bring change to the world rather than following trends or ideas from other industries.

    Promote Creativity and Risk-Taking

    You have to be a leader that inspires innovation, curiosity, and creativity in those around you. To do this, create a culture of risk-taking where employees feel comfortable trying new things without fear of failure or ridicule from others. Take risks yourself as a leader to set an example. For example, if you want your team members to be innovative with design, then you should be willing to experiment with new design techniques as well.

    Encourage Creativity Through Open Communication

    In order for employees to feel inspired to be innovative, they need trust from you as a leader. Maintaining open lines of communication with your team is key to this. Employees should feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions during meetings or one-on-one conversations. Be open to criticism and constructive feedback as well–it’s the only way to grow.

    A great way to encourage innovation in the workplace is by encouraging employee feedback. Not only does this show your team that you’re interested in hearing their thoughts and suggestions, but it will also help you spot trends and recurring problems that may not have been a top priority for your team – allowing you to solve these problems sooner.

    This can be as simple as setting up regular meetings between yourself and the employees on your team, or using an online feedback form so people from different departments can provide input. In fact, you can even use a mobile app for employee engagement software to make it easier for employees to provide feedback and stay updated on their progress.

    Practice Active Listening

    As an innovative leader, you should communicate with sincerity and authenticity to inspire trust in your team members. You want your team to feel like you appreciate the input they give you and that their ideas are valued. To accomplish this, practice active listening by making time for one-on-one meetings with your team to understand what they’re working on and how things are going. You also want to encourage them to be open about any frustrations or concerns they might have–because that’s where you can step in to provide guidance and feedback.

    Give Credit Where It’s Due

    The best leaders are ones that look for opportunities to give teammates the credit they deserve when an innovative solution is discovered or implemented. Also, in order to foster trust and open communication in your team, be transparent in your decision-making process. Let your employees know how you came up with your ideas and how you’ll be implementing them.

    Create an Atmosphere of Trust

    Building trust with your employees is crucial to being a successful innovative leader. You have to create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of rejection by others on the team. That means you need to be open-minded about what your team members have to say and be willing to consider different perspectives.

    In order for employees to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of rejection by others on the team, you need to be open-minded about what your team members have to say and be willing to consider different perspectives. Promoting creativity in the workplace means celebrating failure–because it’s how we learn.

    We can’t get better at something if we don’t know where our weaknesses are. So instead of berating someone for messing up a project or task, recognize that they came up with a new idea or way of solving the problem which is valuable even if it didn’t work out this time around. This will not only make them feel appreciated but also encourage them to experiment more in future projects because they’ll know you’ll be supportive when they fail.

    Encourage Risk-Taking

    The best way to foster innovation in the workplace is to encourage risk-taking. That doesn’t mean you have to accept every harebrained scheme that your employees come up with, but you should be open to new ideas and willing to experiment with them. Try unusual ideas and see where they take your business.  Don’t be afraid to invest time and money into a new idea that might not work out, as long as you learn something from the experience.

    Experimentation and risk-taking in your organization are two of the most important things that lead an individual towards innovation. If you want people to come up with creative solutions, then it’s time we start rewarding those who take risks or make mistakes, not punish them.

    The best way to encourage experimentation and risk-taking is by showing your employees that you’re willing to take risks yourself, too – whether it’s as simple as trying new techniques or taking on a project without being sure how the outcome will turn out. It does not matter if they fail: what matters is that they took a risk.

    To help your employees come up with creative solutions for any problem or issue, brainstorming is a great place to start.
    Innovative leaders encourage creative risk taking and new ideas.

    Brainstorming to Jump Start Creativity

    To help your employees come up with creative solutions for any problem or issue, brainstorming is a great place to start. Brainstorming alone can lead people towards innovative ideas and solutions in the workplace – without creating an environment of competition between members of the team. You can do this by assembling a team of people from various departments and asking them to come up with ideas.

    Another option is to set aside time for creativity, which will allow your employees the freedom to explore different creative solutions that they may not have considered otherwise. You can also encourage inter-departmental brainstorming sessions – as teams who work together on a regular basis will be more creative than those who don’t.

    You can also set up brainstorming sessions with the entire team and assign one person to record ideas as they are brought up. This way, you’ll never lose any good idea that was not fully developed – because it is always better to have too many solutions than none at all.

    Promote Learning and Creativity

    Another great way to foster innovation is by providing opportunities for your employees to learn about new trends and technologies in the industry – so they can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to design, technology or any other aspect of their job. Keeping up with what’s going on outside of work will also provide people with plenty of creative ideas for how they can apply new knowledge to the workplace.

    One way to promote learning and creativity is by offering courses or seminars that employees can attend – for example, this could be as simple as buying an e-learning course from Udemy which they can do on their own time.

    You can also offer workshops where employees come together and learn about a specific topic related to their industry or work. This will not only allow employees to learn new skills, but it will also give them the opportunity to network with their colleagues and learn from their experiences.

    Without innovation, companies and organizations will be left behind and out-performed by those that are willing to create the future.

    The Importance of Innovation

    One thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is how innovation is becoming more and more important to companies. The days where companies can just focus on providing a quality product at a decent price are long gone, and now it has become absolutely crucial for them to innovate instead.

    Innovation can come from different places and from the people that you work with. If you want to be innovative, you have to take risks and change your perspective. Creating an atmosphere of trust is also important for any business, as well as encouraging creativity in the workplace. In order for employees to find creative solutions, they need an open-minded leader who recognizes what they have to offer. You should be willing to invest in new ideas and not discourage risk-taking when it comes to innovative ideas because it makes a difference in what your company offers its clients.

    All in all, fostering a culture of innovation is the key to success for any business and organization today – especially considering how quickly our world changes. As leaders, it is your responsibility to create an environment where people feel comfortable exploring new ideas or taking risks; without this type of leadership, organizations will never progress past being stuck with old ideas and old methods.

    Creating a culture of innovation in your organization can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth the effort. With the right tools and attitude, you can turn your team into a group of high-achievers that are always coming up with new ideas and ways to get things done.

    Happy Innovating!

    Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

    About the Author

    Dr. Sara Baker is a thought leader in the area of positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees face every day.

    Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

    When she's not helping others learn how to lead successful lives, Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

    Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

    About the Author

    Dr. Sara Baker is a thought leader in the area of positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees face every day.

    Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

    When she's not helping others learn how to lead successful lives, Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

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