The way we drive (or should drive) is a good analogy for innovative thinking. Like a alert driver, great innovators are those who can see problems coming, who have a heightened sense of awareness and possibility. This is not just an on demand capability, but a sustained frame of mind. They’re proactively looking for potential improvements they can make and problems they can avoid.
Mindset may the most overlooked strategic issue in business today. Getting yourself and your people into the right frame of mind is becoming a crucial determinant of competitiveness, thanks to two huge business trends.
Innovative leadership is about being someone who has made this mental shift. It also means giving others the latitude and encouragement they need to do the same. The payoff is an organizational shift away from resistance to change and the tendency to just hunker down, to a much more engaged sense of, “I’m ready world, give me your best shot.”
People who are engaged in their work make appropriate adjustments without being told to. They require less supervision and solve problems more quickly. In other words, engaged employees are easier to manage. Without engagement, the only levers available to managers are command and control, reward and punish. That may keep things afloat, but it’s not a path to innovation and growth.
In your business, are you trusting people to make good independent decisions—and providing the requisite resources to support those decisions? Are you willing to loosen up on command and control in order to foster collaboration and flexibility? Do you encourage an ongoing dialogue over how to best achieve your objectives? The degree to which you do those things will to a great degree determine your ability to innovate.