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There is one certainty you face as a leader…you will be required to lead transformational change. And if you can lead so that innovation happens on your team, than there is a higher likelihood of success through the change.

As leaders we are sometimes unclear about what innovation looks like and what we need to do to foster it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Innovative leaders intentionally and skillfully do things that cause innovation to happen. Here’s our top 10 list to get you started.

  1. Articulate and share the BIG PICTURE – the purpose, the why, and why it all matters. If we share our big picture clearly and help people understand how they connect to that big picture and truly impact it, we are more likely to get them focused on ideas or opportunities to make that reality happen.
  2. Broaden your perspective and focus your actions. When we focus on one small element (one department, one product, one perspective) we are missing other key things that may impact our way forward. Get the blinders off. Look around. Then focus your actions specifically on what will impact your way forward. Remove the distractions that get in the way.
  3. Be curious – Be looking for the 2nd best answer or solution. Be open to different ways of doing things. When we have a genuine curios mindset, we just may learn something we hadn’t considered before.
  4. Ask great questions. As leaders we are sometimes tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often, and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue, ask questions like “What would you do?”, “What’s the real challenge here?”, or “How can I help?” to get the team engaged in problem solving.
  5. Ask for feedback and surface people’s resistance. With change, comes resistance. So expect it. Roll with it. Manage it together. Actively seek feedback that may even contradict your intended plan or perspective. Get people thinking about the change in a way that involves them in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate with others. We don’t solve problems by ourselves. We have employees, partners, customers, stakeholders, and they all have a valuable perspective. What perspectives are we missing when we try to do it alone?
  7. Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment – We get busy. That’s not likely to change. And innovation isn’t an event you can schedule. We get ideas in strange places and when our mind is free enough to go in uncharted territory. So build down time in. Go for a walk, play music…whatever inspires your creative side. Don’t fill every second of your schedule.
  8. WTF CultureWilling To Fail. As a leader let’s accept failure as an important step on the way to a better solution. Give people permission to fail and have great conversations when we do fail. Learn from it, make it better, grow together. Go there.
  9. Develop Your Innovation System – When we have a system and know how to move an idea forward, how to get support, how to implement the idea, it makes it much more doable. So create a system that takes the guesswork out of it. Plan your steps, so the idea gets to take center stage in your mind, not the uncertainty around what to do with it.
  10. Join us at the next Women In Leadership and Business Conference. Start collaborating with other leaders that want to have a greater impact. Share in learning with great speakers, thought leaders, keynotes and interactive workshops. This year we have two great sessions on Innovation. Won’t you join us?

We all have ideas, we sometimes just have a hard time implementing them. For information about helping to build innovation on your team, or help you engage your team to deliver great results, contact Learn2.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

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