IT’S ABOUT THEM: LEADING FOR INNOVATION

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Great leaders blaze new trails, inspire new ways of thinking, and lead their organizations with purpose. In order for any company to meet its goals and to achieve sustainable Innovation, leaders need to inspire their teams, top to bottom, and bottom up. They must involve their entire organization in the vision, and promote an honest and open climate to achieve a meaningful shared vision of the future. While it may be easy to focus the lens inward, leadership is never about you… it is about them. The people you lead, and the teams who put their trust in your tenure.

 

One person I have always looked up to is Danny Meyer. Meyer leads his hospitality teams with constant, gentle, pressure. He learned early on that leadership is not about being in control. His role as a leader was not to become frustrated with his staff when they failed to execute his vision perfectly, but instead to lead with consistency, purpose, and vision.

 “It’s my job, and consequently the job of every other leader in my company, to teach everyone who works for us to distinguish center from off center and always to set things right. I send my managers an unequivocal message: I’m going to be extremely specific as to where every component on that tabletop belongs. I anticipate that outside forces, including you, will conspire to change the table setting. Every time that happens, I’m going to move everything back to the way it should be. That’s the constant aspect. I’ll never re-center the saltshaker in a way that denies you your dignity. That’s the gentle aspect. But standards are standards, and I’m constantly watching every table and pushing back on every saltshaker that’s moved because excellent performance is paramount. That’s the pressure.”

Over time, organizations and employees will take on the essence of its leadership, but how can teams represent the philosophy of its organization if the attitude, culture, and processes are not continually reinforced? Organizations whose teams are not trained and coached in its own unique approach to the imperatives of innovation are destined to amass a litany of failed projects. Proper hiring, training and coaching is essential to finding and keeping the right people for the right job, and having them trained in their role in order to perform their personal best.

According to Amy Cosper, Editor and Chief for Entrepreneur Magazine, “leadership is your contribution and your service to your company. It’s your survival, and that of those you lead”.

Training and coaching doesn’t just stop after the initial phase. Continuity is key. New techniques, processes and best practices should always be shared to foster a constant culture of Innovation. Even the trainers and coaches themselves need ongoing training and coaching to prevent their practices from going stale. This is especially true when attracting new talent from Millennial talent pools. Sustained Innovation is a constantly evolving process, and as a leader you help to spearhead the process.

To reinforce and enhance a creative company culture and mindset, effective training and coaching must not be forgotten. Any company that wants to stay in business needs a sustainable Innovation program. Here are some Training and Coaching tips to help your product development process:

  • Share the Joy: As well as the frustrations – communicate what is working and not working.
  • Pick the Right Coaches: Not everyone has the psychological makeup to be the coach.  Knowledge is key, obviously.  But the coach needs to be able to motivate, mediate, and create camaraderie and a sense of selflessness.
  • The One-On-One Touch: Individual coaching provides the privacy and attention that breeds success.  I’ve found that discussions regarding areas for improvement are received and acted upon much better in a private session, away from peers listening in.  This can be especially critical with new employees and/or team members.
  • Basics First: Make certain project management basics are taught, applied and re-taught.

To get results in Innovation, a structured, repeatable process is essential from start to finish. Look to all the imperatives of Robert’s Rules of Innovation – but be sure you know how to implement them. – See more at: http://www.robertsrulesofinnovation.com