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Character traits of an innovative leader

Cultivate these qualities to drive a culture of innovation and business growth.

An increasing number of businesses are doubling down on creativity and innovation as a way to thrive in the knowledge economy. Innovative leaders are in demand for their ability to deliver new products/strategies, drive growth, and provide value to customers. So who exactly makes for an innovative leader? Here are some of the characteristics they exhibit.

Desire to know more
Innovative leaders exhibit an active curiosity to gather new information and are always on the lookout for ways to expand their knowledge. They seek to better understand ways to improve their own individual performance as well as their team’s and by extension the company’s. These business leaders understand the need to update their knowledge and skill base so as to stay relevant in this constantly changing world. To do so they need to have a firm understanding of their strengths and weaknesses so as to evaluate which areas need improvement. They have a heightened level of awareness and curiosity, which they encourage in those around them. This helps develop an organisation culture that promotes exploration as a means towards organisational and personal development.

Leading with confidence
When faced with tough situations, innovative leaders display confidence and authority. They do not shy away from making tough decisions, or addressing conflict and differences of opinion. They demonstrate decisiveness and a willingness to assume the responsibility of any fallout that might result from their decisions. Innovative leaders are also adept at turning difficult situations into learning opportunities. They understand the difference between being an aggressive leader and an assertive one, showing respect to all and not imposing their views on others.

Inspiring and provoking others
Innovative leaders are agents of change, supporting, motivating, and empowering employees to be curious, generate new ideas, engage in difficult dialogues and pursue professional development. They’re free with knowledge/information and involve employees in the decision-making process wherever possible. By being honest, upfront and informative they inspire their employees to do the same. They understand that a culture of innovation has to be inculcated in every employee, so that it isn’t a one-time activity, but rather something that becomes deeply ingrained in the company’s DNA.

Promoting transparency
Effective leaders understand that transparency is key to discovery and invention. They try to change the organisational structure so that information can be widely shared and used by everyone to achieve organisational goals. They open channels of communication, try to bring people/teams/departments together so as to facilitate the flow of information and optimise the knowledge gained. By encouraging open information systems these leaders are promotion a company culture of exploration and innovation.

Photograph: Dooder – Freepik.com 

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