Without experienced innovation leaders in place to pioneer change management systems, you won’t be able to keep up with the pace of innovation in your market.
So here are the key skills that we try to embody here at Idea Drop, and the skills we hope to aspire in those we work with. For us, there are six critical skills that an innovation leader can’t do without. Take a look:
In order to lead the way, you have to know the way. Vision is the driver that gives managers the confidence to move forward, push boundaries and create something new. Without it, you can’t make decisions without conviction and take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan.
To be a leader of any sort, you need to empathise with the needs and motivations of the people you’re working with. If you find it difficult to understand the position of others, it’s going to be almost impossible to encourage them to engage with your vision for the organisation. Businesses are about people coming together to make their lives better; you can’t make that happen for others if you’re not willing to listen to what they want.
Vision is one thing, but if you’re going to get stakeholders on your side, you need to communicate that vision with clarity and purpose. Good communication is all about being concise, specific and working with your interlocutors to help keep everyone on the same page. Whatever channels you use to communicate, you should be a master of all of them.
Completionism is the opposite of perfectionism – a powerful urge to get things done and signed off. Some people are blessed with the drive to never stop until a job is finally put to rest, and it’s an asset you should cultivate as far as you can in your day- to-day life. Remember, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing it badly.
Many people with strong vision and great empathy still fail to get their ideas off the ground. Why? Because they never learned how to sell them to other people. Good salesmanship requires a little bit of everything on this post, but it’s a skill that you’ll need to be conscious of constantly as you work towards stakeholder buy-in, especially if you’re your organisation’s sole innovation leader.
6. Systems thinking
Innovation isn’t about getting one great idea every now and then. It’s about systematically generating ideas over a long period of time and having them ready when you need them. And that goes for all the other aspects of your innovation pipeline too – the processes need to be in place to get moving when you need them. For that, you need to be a good designer of systems. That’s precisely why we made Idea Drop – to make innovation simple even when your company is facing its biggest challenges.
All the skills in this list are things you can build with time and practice. Try making a list of each of the attributes and grading yourself out of ten. It’ll give you a great idea of where you can improve the quickest.