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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 July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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