With the passing of Steve Jobs and with it recent reminders of how not only bright and creative, but arrogant and obnoxious he could be, I got to thinking: Why are great innovators at times so insufferable?
There’s always a risk, when floating any innovative idea, that it will crash against the rocky shores of personal fiefdoms, entrenched power bases and cronyism, both public and private. The often intense resistance to anything that might require real change often comes down to the same silent refrain: I’ve got mine. Don’t mess with it. It’s a stance that can stop innovation dead in its tracks. There may be no better example of how not to innovate than the current state of American politics.
Are you always on the lookout for new innovation and leadership tools? Do you go to conferences looking for the latest techniques to adopt? If you do, you’re in good company but in your search for tools you may be overlooking something much more powerful: behaviors.
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.”
Curiosity is arguably the single strongest driver behind innovation. It’s an abiding dissatisfaction with the status go that drives us to endlessly seek better answers and better ways and better ideas.
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.