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4 Ways Organizational Leaders Impact Innovation

By Sue Wigston on December 23, 2019

One hallmark of a great leader is the ability to bring out the best in others. Strong leaders know that no matter how intelligent or insightful they are, it takes a team of capable individuals to make an organization successful. Being open to new ideas and listening to others who have more experience in particular areas of expertise is essential for growing a company and maintaining success. 

By taking an open-minded approach, surrounding themselves with talented individuals, and adopting new ideas, leaders are better able to achieve the performance, culture, innovation, and strategic goals that lead to organizational success. A leader who takes this approach can have a profound impact for the following four reasons.
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1. Sparking creativity

Perhaps one of the most powerful reasons for leaders to be open to new ideas is that those ideas may have the power to alter the future of the company. If your company is able to develop a new product, offer an innovative service, or make substantial improvements to a process, new opportunities for growth will arise.

By contrast, leaders who are satisfied with the status quo and not receptive to new ideas may miss out on these types of opportunities. Great leaders know that the next big idea can come from anywhere, including individuals who are not specifically tasked with innovating. Staying open and approachable helps ensure that clever ideas are not quashed before they are shared or even fully formulated.

2. Fostering empowerment and accountability

Leaders who are open to new ideas create an environment in which individuals feel more empowered to solve problems and be accountable for finding solutions. They become proactive instead of reactive and strive to recognize problems before they arise. 

Strong leaders provide a clear vision, the necessary resources to execute it, and a degree of freedom that allows individuals to come up with innovative solutions. This leads to new ways of thinking, more efficient systems, and other benefits that you can’t foresee.

3. Building confidence

When people know that their ideas are welcome, they are more willing to share them. When their ideas are appreciated and considered—even if they are not adopted—individuals will gain confidence in their abilities and continue to generate new ideas that benefit the organization. 

Recognizing people for their successes also helps solidify any lessons learned through training and development. By reinforcing the behaviors that contribute to innovation, leaders keep the cycle going and allow new ideas to come to fruition. This can be done through reward systems, regular reporting, and acknowledging an individual’s work in one-to-one meetings. 

4. Developing strong relationships

Being truly open to new ideas means that they can come from anywhere, regardless of an individual’s role or level in the organization. This attitude helps build stronger, more trusting relationships between leaders, teams, and individuals.

Leaders who demonstrate that good ideas can be found in any corner help instill a sense of collaboration throughout the company. Emerging leaders can also see that this attribute in more senior leaders promotes a culture of teamwork that benefits the organization in multiple ways.

Whether or not innovation is a primary goal for your organization, helping shape a culture of innovation will increase creativity, collaboration, and accountability. To learn more about this and other key leadership skills, download A Practical Guide to Leading Change.

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As Chief Operating Officer, Sue's extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle's Flight.

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Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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