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11 Valuable Lessons From the Greatest Innovative Leaders

11 Valuable Lessons From the Greatest Innovative Leaders

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    1. Improve upon what already exists

    Many people seem to confuse innovation with invention. To innovate, it isn’t necessary to discover something as exciting as the telephone. Innovation is the successful introduction of a new idea to the marketplace. Invention, on the other hand, is the discovery of a new idea. Innovation is fortunately far more attainable.

    During the past two centuries, innovation has more than doubled our life span and given us cheap energy and more food. If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without continuing innovation in health, energy or food, the picture is dark. -Bill Gates, Microsoft.

    2. Create clear goals

    In order to be an innovative leader, it is important to question why your idea is important to your business. Are you hoping to use the idea to increase sales, improve customer service, or maintain your position in the market? Have an idea of where you want to go in the future and then get stuck in.

    Grit is often the single-most predictor of success. Grit is not just about stubborn persistence. It’s also about choosing the right goal in the first place. The unfortunate reality is that it’s not all going to happen. How can we make sure all our struggle and sacrifice will be worth it? Make sure it passes the underwear test. -Jonah Lehrer, author and journalist

    3. See the bigger picture

    Innovative leaders who are successful at innovation regularly think outside the box. They understand the importance of analyzing their business model to find ways to stand out from competitors. The more world experience they have, the more they notice gaps in the market and the wider their exposure to new ideas, people and perspectives.

    I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose… When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds. –Ellen DeGeneres

    4. Think about the users more than the product

    Current trends and feedback are regularly considered by innovative leaders. They also tend to read widely. They are curious about the world, love learning, and get feedback from their customers because they offer the best ‘hands-on’ experience–both good and bad–of your company. Think about how you can enrich the lives of others.

    We believe that if we focus on the users, the money will come. In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site. -Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Google

    5. Be creative

    Innovation is creative, cutting-edge, and is ignited by an inquiring mind. Try this simple approach: ask questions. The answers allow you to begin innovating. Asking meaningful questions helps create clarity and deliver answers. You cannot innovate if you do not ask yourself or others questions. Innovative leaders are brave and embrace change.

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    Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need. -William McKnight, 3M President

    6. Do what you love, don’t just do it for the money

    Passion encourages determination and perseverance. When you do something purely for financial gain, it is harder to keep the energy going. When you love what you do, the time whizzes by and you feel fulfilled. The money automatically follows.

    I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. -Steve Jobs, Apple Corporation.

    7. Believe in the impossible and be willing to fail

    Most innovative leaders faced negativity from others, but they believed in themselves and their visions despite this. Start doing and you will be ahead of those who just think and never do. Take action and be willing to fail along the way. This is part of the process. Don’t allow fear and worry to get the better of you.

    If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. -Woody Allen, actor, author, screenwriter, film director

    8. Be a “forward thinker”

    Need a service that doesn’t exist? Are you looking for a product that you know would be useful but can’t find it? Innovative leaders use these opportunities to identify possible gaps that exist and find a way to bring these ideas to fruition.

     “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. –Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

    9. Be people-friendly

    Many deals are done in business based upon the relationship between two parties. It pays to be likeable, open, and sincere in your endeavors to secure the cooperation and support from others along the way.

    We live in a social world, and it is almost impossible to physically cut yourself off from other people. But, how we interact with others is vitally important to our happiness and success. Getting along with people and allowing them to be themselves, bringing out the best, encouraging them — these are the hallmarks of good leaders. -Richard Branson, Virgin Group

    10. Don’t be afraid of change

    We all tend to resist the idea of change. To be innovative, it is necessary to embrace change and revel in the idea of the new and exciting changes that propel us through our ever-changing world.

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    The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar… Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen. –Aldous Huxley

    11. Be persistent

    If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Success is not linear and most innovative leaders have experienced their fair share of failure. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.

    Innovation almost always is not successful the first time out. You try something and it doesn’t work and it takes confidence to say we haven’t failed yet. … Ultimately you become commercially successful. -Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School

    Innovative leaders have a lot to teach us, but no one has all the answers. Believe in yourself and remember that we are all learning new things every day. Be bold, be brave and act upon your brilliant ideas.

    Featured photo credit: Dent in universe/Celestine Chua via flickr.com

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    Mandy Kloppers

    Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

    With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

    With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

    1. Determine Your “Why”

    Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

    The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

    Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

    “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

    That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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    I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

    Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

    Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

    2. Write Down Your Goal

    If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

    This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

    When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

    3. Set a SMART Goal

    A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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    Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

       

      By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

      • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
      • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
      • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
      • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
      • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

      Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

      4. Take One Step at a Time

      Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

      Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

      For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

      This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

      5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

      With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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      For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

      The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

      Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

      6. Schedule Your Tasks

      Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

      What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

      For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

      Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

      While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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      7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

      Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

      Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

      You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

      8. Check off Items as You Go

      You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

      There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

      If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

      9. Review and Reset as Necessary

      Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

      If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

      The Bottom Line

      When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

      More on Goal Action Plans

      Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

      Reference

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