As most management experts will be happy to tell you, the foundation of teamwork and business growth usually lies in innovative leadership. But what exactly does this mean? What’s the difference between “innovative” leadership and the regular kind? What separates innovative, creative, fearless leaders from those who simply operate by the book and follow the well-traveled path (a path that usually lead to mediocrity, not team loyalty, group productivity, and record-breaking growth)? If you’re working to establish yourself as an innovative leader, start by building an innovative culture in your workplace. And as you move forward, keep these considerations in mind.
One Person Does Not Equal a Culture
In order to create a motivated, enthusiastic, fearlessly innovative workforce, start by recognizing an essential truth: You can’t do it by yourself. You’ll need to set an example of course, and you’ll need to become the kind of person who you’d like your employees to emulate. But more important, you’ll have to create an entire culture—a pervasive climate—that supports outside-the-box thinking and bold experimentation. Ideally, you’ll foster a community that thrives on innovation and continues to do so even when you aren’t around, a culture that can’t be shaken or undermined by the departure of one or two key players. A strong organization bounces back quickly after a single gloomy day or team setback.
Build from the Ground Up and the Inside Out
So how can you cultivate a lasting and resilient spirit of innovation? Start by hiring people who reflect this spirit. Continue by incorporating a respect for innovation into your training program. Continue further by rewarding risky suggestions and ideas, even when they don’t pan out. Rein in judgements. Celebrate teamwork. Frown on competitive behavior, credit hogging, and showboating. Listen to every voice and actively solicit input from the quieter corners of the room. Praise appropriately, and back up verbal praise with substance. For example, don’t publically praise an employee for her bold ideas and then pass her over in order to promote a Steady Freddy who never takes a risk.
Cultivate a Climate of Trust
If you view the employee-employer relationship as adversarial, your employees will pick up on this and respond in kind. If you nickel and dime them on benefits, pay them the lowest salary you can get away with, monitor them constantly, and treat them like criminals who are always trying to get away with something, they’ll obviously view you the same way. Nobody wins this game. Instead, let them know that you’re on the same team. Your goals are identical, and if the company profits, so do they. Make it clear that you understand the central rule of effective management: Happy workers are better workers. Encourage them to come to you with requests and complaints, and when they do, listen, comply, and show respect.
For more on how to get the most out of your valuable employees, contact the staffing experts at Cordia.