7 Characteristics of Innovative Leaders: Model Success for Your Team
What does it mean to be a leader? There's the standard definition of someone who leads a team or organization, but that doesn’t tell us exactly what makes a leader. “A team leader leads.” No kidding! Thank you for clarifying.
We want to get into the core of being an innovative leader—which, in our opinion, is the only kind of leader there should be (maybe we're biased). Perhaps you've seen a trend in the insight and advice we provide, but anything successful or worth doing starts from within—within your company, within your team, and within yourself.
That being said, how do you know if you're the best innovative leader you can be? First, as a leader, you want to lead your team by example and set them up for success. As far back as ten years ago, a Global Innovation 1000 report found a clear difference in both revenue (11%) and EBITDA (22%) growth in favor of more innovative organizations. In short, successful innovative leaders help businesses break through that figurative glass ceiling to greater success.
We’ve seen, and understand, the various characteristics of innovative leaders. We’ve helped guide teams to success with innovation as a service. It is possible for anyone to achieve. Let’s check out this list we’ve compiled to see where you lie on the scale of leadership.
Do You Have Characteristics of an Innovative Leader?
If you want to lead a team of innovators, you should have a few defining traits to become an influential role model. Of course, being an innovative leader doesn't happen by accident, and there isn't necessarily a formula to reach the status. However, there is a pattern in the characteristics of innovative leaders. Here's a list of the most prevalent ones:
1. Confidence: Innovative leaders will always believe in themselves and envision positive outcomes. Confidence is looking within (here we go again) and tapping into the talent and skills to bring your team to success, even when issues arise. When leaders believe they have what it takes and display that confidence to their teams, it significantly impacts the work environment and culture. Team members will appreciate an innovative leader with a "can do" attitude. In addition, working with a leader that holds a positive vision encourages them to model after you and be self-assured.
2. High-risk tolerance: No risk, no reward. An innovative leader understands that not every new idea is the one. Some will fail, but that’s a part of the process. Innovation is very much a trial-and-error strategy, so a leader must be willing to risk losing money, time, or other resources in an effort to achieve better results.
3. Collaborative and team-oriented: Innovation doesn’t happen with a single person. It’s a team effort. Creative insights come from the intelligent and non-disparaging collaboration of ideas that leads to continual innovation. With all these moving pieces working together, your organization is driven to greater heights. An innovation leader enables the process of a collaborative inquest and encourages everyone to be involved.
4. Able to manage stress: The constant demands of being a leader take a toll on physical, mental, and emotional health. It happens to workers when they can't find the right balance between successfully managing stress and effectively maintaining an innovative culture. They snap, so to speak. The worst part is that employees are, by default, on the receiving end of unrequited treatment. It's a lose-lose situation for everyone.
We're all human. We get stressed, responsibilities get overwhelming, and some days we're just burnt out, plain and simple. To combat the effects of stress, leaders must identify the source of their stress and confront it reasonably. Your innovators are watching you, looking to you as a prime example of what it means to be successful. Here are some ways to manage stress without leaving a rain cloud over everyone's heads.
- Get familiar with stress responses: The quicker you learn how your body responds to stress (e.g., increased heart rate, hot flashes, etc.), the faster you can address it. You also have to understand how stress affects your behavior. Do you turn into a jerk? Are you loud and obnoxious? Maybe you're in your thirties and still throw temper tantrums. Either way, we're not judging. It's just how some people work. Fortunately, it can be controlled with practice. Consider how your behavior affects your team.
- Rethink your work process: The most time and effort should be given to the most important priorities. To do that, you need to streamline and organize your team's daily tasks. Prioritization, planning, and organization will go a long way.
- Confront source of stress: This one's easy. Don't let your stress build up or go ignored. It's not a case of "if I don't see it, it isn't there."
- Don’t be a perfectionist: First, there’s no such thing as perfection in innovation. Let it go. If someone’s ideas don’t result in what was anticipated, or the process didn’t go smoothly, it’s okay. Try again! Or know when to walk away. If an idea falls short over and over for months, ditch it and move on.
- Delegate workload responsibly: You’re not Superman (as cool as that would be). It’s unreasonable and overwhelming to think you can do everything yourself. Delegate tasks to your teams and trust they will get the job done.
5. Open-minded and creative: When team members offer new ideas, innovation leaders are receptive and more than willing to explore the concept, hence the title "Innovation Leader." Being open to new, creative ideas, radical ones included, significantly contributes to a long-lasting inspired culture in the organization.
6. Active and involved: The best innovation leaders are the ones that are ready to roll up their sleeves and dive right in. Again, an innovative culture is all about teamwork. A leader shouldn't be posted up in their office barking orders. Instead, they need to be on the floor actively participating with everyone else. Being involved makes an innovation leader feel energized and exhilarated in leading change.
7. Inspirational: "For innovation to exist, you have to feel inspired."- Unknown. Inspirational leaders are value-driven, sprouting from a strong sense of purpose and obligation to create change. Inspiration is a necessity in the workplace and is perhaps one of, if not the, most essential characteristics of innovative leaders. They motivate those around them, inevitably leading to success.
The Real Bottom Line
Many innovative leaders believe that the best ideas start at the bottom. So, they cultivate a lasting culture that unleashes fantastic ideas from even the lowest-level employees.
Innovative leaders are often described as energetic, optimistic, and responsive, always keeping an open mind. As a result, the dull, monotonous workplace is replaced with a fun, inspiring atmosphere.
“There are no rules here. We’re trying to accomplish something.”
Model Success and Drive Innovation With rready
rready provides leaders with all the right tools to build an innovative work environment. Your team members look to you for guidance and inspiration. Be the innovative leader they want to see and guide your organization down the path to success. You already have your company's ideas and big plans. You’ve harnessed the greatest characteristics of innovative leaders. So take action and keep the inspiration flowing.