Access and Feeds

Innovation: What Does it Take?

By Dick Weisinger

Innovation is the secret ingredient that separates good companies from great ones. It takes an innovative leader to make the difference.

Deborah Ancona, researcher at MIT Sloan School of Management, said that innovative “leaders are the folks that create frothy, bubble up innovation for the organization and do so because they’re constantly coming up with new product ideas and new business models with new ways of organizing in the firm. It’s not just coming up with the idea, but it’s also seizing the opportunity and moving it through the organization.”

What are the characteristics that make a leader innovative? The five traits of innovative leaders according to Harvard Business Review (HBR) are:

  • Brings new solutions to market quickly
  • Use data to make decisions
  • Get commitment from senior management
  • Foster an entrepreneurial culture
  • Focus on the customer

Contrast those traits with the five traits HBR says are most destructive to leadership:

  • Carelessness and impulsivity. Like rushing something to completion that isn’t ready.
  • Overprotectiveness. Not sharing ideas because you worry that they will be stolen.
  • Overconfidence. Not seeking out advice or help from others, even when needed.
  • Overexertion. Pushing yourself too hard.
  • Devaluation. Not fully appreciating relationships and resources. Taking things for granted.

While identifying the good and the bad is an important start, the hard thing is to be able to execute.

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