Innovation Insights is a daily post on LinkedIn to help leaders strengthen those all-important innovation muscles over a period of 30 days. Below is a summary from week 4.

Watch your language…

Leaders need to watch their language….

For example, is your leader language focused on making cost cuts or on making improvements?

The former makes people scared and wonder if they will be next.

The latter finds more opportunities, gets buy-in to implement faster, develops the muscles to innovate into the future, makes people feel empowered, and keeps healthy connections while people are remote.

Cuts may be necessary, but the most effective changes are those that come from an outlook of positivity and growth.

Aspire to inspire.

Being a great innovating leader requires inspirational leadership. One way to be a more inspiring leader is to be highly effective at acknowledgement.

To do this, focus on improving both the quantity and quality of things you acknowledge with your team.

For quantity, acknowledge daily. There is always something positive that can be highlighted to another.

For quality, move your acknowledgements up the Acknowledgement Curve. At the bottom of the curve is acknowledging for behaviors, like a task completed. Next up the curve is acknowledging for impact, like impact on sales or clients. Highest up the curve is acknowledging for the character aspects that showed up, like determination or creativity.

The higher up the curve you can make your acknowledgements (and with the appropriate frequency), the more inspiring leader you will be…which sets the table to allow for a highly innovative culture.

Anchors away

Where are your innovation anchors? Innovation anchors are those things that keep an organization from reaching their full innovation potential.

One place to look for anchors is in leadership.

Is senior leadership an impediment to the innovation culture? They can be if they are overly conservative, don’t empower their people, are poor at mastering their time, or simply cut things when times get tough.

Are leaders in the middle barriers to innovation? They can be if they have no incentive to take risks, don’t think it is their role to assist with raising the bar, or are poor at handling suggestions from their teams.

Is the frontline a barrier to innovation? They can be if they are not included in the process, feel disengaged, or are left in dark.

Is any aspect of your organization an impediment to innovative change? The faster you can convert impediments to change into agents of change, the faster your organization will reach its innovative potential.

Stand-out Innovators create Stand-out Innovators

Some of the most Dangerous Innovators are those that help their customers to be Dangerous Innovators.

Shopify helps businesses easily sell online. SalesForce helps businesses organize their sales processes. Mailchimp helps businesses dramatically improve their customer communication.

There is a reason that these that these companies are well-known and highly valued.

To what extent are you maximizing your B2B clients’ ability to be a Dangerous Innovators?  What else can you do to make them look like rock stars to THEIR customers?

Take time and get your team focused on that question. I am sure they will have plenty of ideas that can help make your company a stand-out.

Handling Ideas

How good are your leaders at handling ideas for improvement from their teams?

If they are MEDIOCRE at it, money is being left on the table.

But If leaders are POOR at it, opportunities are lost AND real damage is being can be done to the organization. Good talent can leave. Good talent might also stay, but be disengaged.

Who wants to work at places where it does not seem like they can make a difference or that their opinions don’t seem to matter?

We teach people how to have sales conversations. We teach people how to have performance conversations. Why not teach your people how to have conversations that help them to can tap into people’s creativity and propel the organization forward?

You know your leaders are good at this if:

  • They can help turn a half-baked idea into a good idea through discussion
  • They can help people see the strengths and weakness of an idea
  • They can do both of the above in a way that encourages more excitement to contribute and not less.