8. Being Innovative/How to be Innovative
Companies face risks of being left behind by competition if they don’t innovate and come up with new or better ways of doing things. Moreover, technological changes are accelerating the speed of innovation.
To remain relevant and competitive in their industry, leaders should take some time out of their daily work schedule to think strategically about the future of their company and industry; to envision how things are likely to be in the future, the growth opportunities and threats that are likely to arise, and to start planning now on how to survive the future.
Leaders should create a culture that encourages the generation of new ideas.
Different ways of stimulating innovation include looking at what works well in one context and seeking to apply it in a different area, reworking old ideas, combining old ways of doing things with new methods, continuously improving existing processes, coming up with brand new ways of doing things, and combining unrelated things, methods and processes to come up with unique solutions.
After formulating an idea, the next step is to think through how your idea will work out: What obstacles will you face when bringing it to reality? What resources are required? What are the pros and cons? How long will it take to materialize? Does the idea arouse interest and excitement? How can you convince others that the idea is viable?
Not all ideas will work – keep experimenting and testing until you get breakthroughs and use failures as learning opportunities.
As an emerging leader, aspire to leave things better than you found them. Make an effort to come up with new, better and improved ways of doing things and add more value.
One way to inspire your innovativeness is by reading widely and seeing how other people are solving existing challenges. Think of different ways of achieving your end goals and figure out how to bring the new ideas to life.
Ask good questions to understand why things are done the way they are done and ask yourself whether there is a better way of accomplishing a specific activity.
Talk to others to exchange ideas and ask team members to give you critical feedback, suggestions and recommendations on your projects and ideas.
Talk to users or customers of your products or services to learn how they are using your services, learn what aspects they like, what they don’t like and suggestions they have for improvement.
Encourage others to regularly come up with ideas – especially solutions for work problems they are facing – then together sift through ideas to choose viable ones that can be fine-tuned and implemented.
Chances are that when you constantly face the same problems at work, you are likely to start thinking of a solution consciously or unconsciously and over time you might just come up with a solution that can transform how things are done.
So go ahead and share your proposed solutions with others – they could provide valuable insights and build upon your idea to lead to the next breakthrough innovation for your company, department or team.
9. Building Good Teams
There is power in a good team. When a team is working together in a harmonious and coordinated manner, their combined output is higher than the output of an individual working alone.
This is evident in the office when groups work together on a project, in a business or in the community. The brainstorming power increases and the potential for improving on an idea can be magnified based on each team member’s skills, expertise and capabilities.
Many people desire to work in or be part of a successful team. People like and admire a winning team however, building a strong high performing team is hard work.
Different team members have varying interests and motivations and the goal of a leader is to ensure that all team members know where the boat is going and that they are all rowing in unison.
Things to consider when building a strong team entail knowing the strengths and weaknesses of members, how different skills complement each other, different strengths, perspectives and knowledge of the members, leader’s vision, team roles, team norms or rules, getting team members to know each other, building trust, defining goals and clarifying expectations.
Other considerations comprise connecting with individual team members, drawing out the best in each person, encouraging their strengths, empowering others, coaching, measuring progress, taking regular temperature check on morale, members to interact freely during team meetings, being available to listen, big picture connection, resolving conflicts quickly and offering rewards and recognition.
10. Taking Initiative
As a leader, the quality of being self-directed and going above and beyond is valuable. It entails anticipating a need or a requirement and figuring out how to address the need. For example you can take initiative in building your leadership abilities by identifying free leadership development courses online and undertaking the courses to increase your knowledge.
You can also seek a mentor or another leader who can coach you to strengthen your leadership skills. On your day-to-day roles, you can take initiative to carefully study the procedures and workflows involved in planning and executing projects and identify ways to improve processes to save both time and money.
Test drive your leadership skills by undertaking additional responsibilities such as volunteering to lead a project and chairing meetings. Take someone under your wings and teach them all that you know to help them to succeed – be a mentor.