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Essentials of Leadership
 
by Bruce E. Beck
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Developing the Leader in You - Part 4 - Strategic Innovation


Developing the Leader in You – Part 4

In our previous blogs, we discussed the importance of creating confidence and demonstrating command for a leader or aspiring leader. We discussed how creating confidence leads to trust and when demonstrating command of the business it leads to respect. In our last blog we discussed the importance and power of not just producing results but producing sustainable results through enabling and developing people. We emphasized that people tend to follow credible trusted people that they respect and who enable them to be successful. In this final blog of our 4 Part series on Developing the Leader in You we will discuss the idea of a leader manifesting Strategic Innovation.

Manifest Strategic Innovation

I define Strategic Innovation as the ability to explore and develop creative solutions and actions to achieve specific objectives and goals valuable to the business. A leader who demonstrates this ability to drive and lead strategic innovation is able to help their team and organization stay not only successful but on the leading edge of the culture as well as business and technology. A leader or aspiring leader can develop these skills. Here are just a few approaches.

Anticipation - The strongest leader’s “headlights” extend beyond others and anticipates the future. The leader is forward-looking asking continually “what next?” Having a very sound command of the business is fundamental to understanding trends, threats and opportunities as we discussed in Part 2 of this series. The ability to anticipate can be developed also by becoming a student of the world. When a leader broadens their perspective they can understand trends and connect new ideas and concepts. Look around and be a student of what is happening inside and outside your business. Continually ask, “What could that mean to me and my team?”

Innovation - The ability to make and facilitate new offers to the organization is a valuable capability for leaders. The strong leader is always looking for opportunities for improvement including making the organization and people stronger, more capable, more productive, more efficient, more profitable, or even creating a new product for the customer. To set the stage for this it is important that the leader and their team be able to analyze and break down the business systems to understand the cause and effect relationships. This certainly can lead to incremental improvement but it also sets the stage for strategic innovation. A fundamental understanding of the enterprise systems and their unique interactions enables the leader and their team to recognize how new innovations could drive change.

Leveraged Risk – Driving change in an organization always has risk associated with it, but the leader must understand the risk and work closely with others to minimize or effectively manage the risk throughout the change. The leader must often carefully navigate new ideas through naysayers and viable challenges. Understanding the risk, the gaps and developing appropriate implementation paths is critical for a successful leader. Learn how to define and assess risk and develop plans to effectively manage the risk. Many good ideas have simply been abandoned because leaders have been overwhelmed by the perceived roadblocks or not put together a risk mitigation plan.

The leader who demonstrates the ability to anticipate future trends, issues, and opportunities and move the organization in a new direction through new offers and innovative approaches is seen as a real – change agent. Over this series we have discussed how people want to follow people that are trusted and respected and who enable them and the team to be successful. These people will also follow someone who knows where the organization needs to go and is capable of taking them there. Likewise management is looking for leaders who are trusted and respected. Who get results with people and have the ability to identify a vision and take an organization forward. These are all areas a leader or aspiring leader can work on developing daily through their actions and behaviors.