With innovation it’s the only thing that matters

I work with lots of different leaders and they all say innovation is important.

This is backed up by research across the globe.

They often tell me how they wish their team, culture or business could be more creative and innovative.

But they are often lost for words when I ask them the following question.

What are you doing that is innovative?

The problem is this.

If leaders want everyone else to be more innovative then they have to role-model the behaviour they want to encourage.

Because the biggest idea-killer for team members is when a leader asks for some new ideas than criticises every idea that is presented to them.

If a leader wants everyone else to try new approaches or move out of their comfort zone or take a risk then the best way to do this if for them to point to their own behaviour.

they have to lead by example!

Innovation has to start (and end) with the leader.

Think of all the great innovative brands and you can point to a leader that respects, values and demonstrates innovation.

I once worked with a leader who bemoaned the lack of creativity in his leadership team.

After listening to his rant I asked him when was the last time he talked about creativity or innovation to his team?

He had to admit that he talked about everything except this.

It was no wonder that his team did not get the importance of innovation.

This does not mean that the leader has to be the one that generates the best ideas.

But it does mean that a leader has to be the person that builds a safe environment where new ideas are generated, encouraged and discussed.

The key message?

Don’t be like this builder who whilst advertising his services had a place that was run down.

Or the overweight doctor that lecture their patients about the dangers of over-eating.

As Gandhi said – be the change you want in the world!

For leaders and innovation this is vital.

Leaders just have to lead by example.

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