Innovation means “a new idea, device or method” and the act there of. If you are a leader, you want to encourage innovation.
It doesn’t matter what kind of leader you are, whether you lead a team of bright people in business, a student leader, or a leader of a community group—you are a leader. If you want to succeed, you will have to foster an environment of innovation.
Why innovation is important:
Innovation equals growth. If you run a business that sells a product or a service, innovation can help with the creation of new products, better your services, and streamline your day to day work tasks. Also, innovation can grow your organization perhaps with fund-raising ideas or other ideas to make your group fulfill its mission better. Innovation can make life better for everyone.
Not only does innovation help a business grow, it also allows for better work environment and better teamwork. If your employees or group know that you want to hear what they think, they will come to with their ideas. They will be able to communicate better with you, not just about how to make something better but if there are troubles you are unaware of. When you open your door for them to talk, you will be a better leader. Just listening to your group will make them feel like they are appreciated and valued and they are more likely to work to the best of their ability because they will feel their effort is worth it. Innovation doesn’t just equal growth but communication and team work.
How to cultivate innovation:
You know innovation is important, but how do you start creating an environment that induces creative and innovative thinking. The first starts with you as the leader to have the desire to have creative thought.
- Tell your group in plain words that you want them to come to you with their ideas. If you are a new leader to the group or team or you are trying to become a better leader, make your intentions known. Physically tell them you want to hear about their ideas and make sure to send a group email letting them know your door is open and you are looking forward to hearing what they have to say. This basic step will start the communication between you and your members.
- Encourage cross-training. In an article from Business News Daily, innovative people will draw ideas from learning new skills. If your people want to attend extra school, be sure to encourage it but also encourage your team to learn other skills at the business. For example, you are a company that makes plastic pieces and some of your executives have not been on the factory floor or ever worked in a factory setting. Have them learn a worker’s job because maybe just doing the job, a fresh, new idea will come to light that may increase productivity without making more work for the workers.
- Share interesting articles on innovation and creativity. When you find an interesting article that talks about creativity or how to be innovative, share it with your team and encourage the same from your group members. Not only does this encourage communication but it reinforces your aim to be an innovative group. Perhaps one of your team members reads an article and they try one of the helpful hints, he or she just might come up with an idea that will blow your socks off.
That one idea was a disaster, what now?
Not every idea is a gold mine and there will be some that will fail. You don’t want to say “failure is not an option” instead you want to say, “failure could be an option but we can bounce back.” Of course, as the leader you take the calculated risk into all the ideas brought to you. Some of the risks may not be as big as others and it’s up to you and your team to decide if something is worthy of the risk. Things happen; the best idea can flop.
The first thing you want to do is ask “what went wrong and how can we fix this?” One of the oldest sayings is you learn from mistakes or failure is a learning experience. Be sure to make those old adages your motto when something doesn’t go as hoped. Ask your team, “how to make the problem better.” You and your team take the failure together, don’t point fingers or blame someone else. If you all take the responsibility of the failure then you all will work harder to make the problem better and come out ahead. Being a good leader is to take the failure and rise from the ashes just like the phoenix.
Think about the people under you—think about what they bring to the workplace. Every single one of those people brings something unique to the group, appreciate who they are and what they want to accomplish, and the common goal will be easier to see.
Innovation is about ideas, large or small that can take a business or a group to the next level, which is the common goal for you and your team. It’s up to you to make the decision to bring the group together—open lines of communication and let your people talk to you and give you ideas. With an environment that encourages creative thinking, you will be a leader that people will want to work with and your people will want to stay with you instead of looking for a better position. You want to keep your talent because they make you who you are.
Amy Cowen is a professional writer and editor at AussieEssay.com.