10 Innovation Leadership Characteristics

In the rapidly changing world today, it is crucial for organizations to be innovative in order to stay competitive in the market and ensure continued success.

This need for innovation has brought on a requirement for leaders who are capable of influencing and inspiring creative efforts.

Without innovation leadership, it is difficult for modern organizations to survive in the dynamic marketplace. The following are the key characteristics of innovation leadership.

1. Risk tolerance
Innovation is synonymous with creativity. And free-flowing creativity involves a great deal of risk. An innovation leader has high risk tolerance, and has the uncanny knack to consider all possible eventualities to make well-calculated bets that often pay off.

2. Domain expertise
Innovation leaders are typically required in technology oriented industries that advance rapidly. They must have the required domain expertise to communicate effectively with their team, convey a unified vision, understand the inherent risks and advantages of a creative idea, and also to command respect from the team.

3. Openness
When team members come up with a new idea, innovation leaders are receptive and are completely open to exploring the idea. This openness to new ideas, even radical ones, significantly contributes to the creation of a highly innovative climate in the organization.

4. Low anxiety
A person who is chronically stressed and feels anxious about every little thing will not succeed in a creative and innovative environment. Anxiety is contagious, especially if it comes from a leader. Innovation leaders are typically low on anxiety. This helps them create an environment where people feel comfortable and secure, rather than anxious and threatened.

5. Emotional stability
An innovation leader is grounded and has their emotions under control. Huge swings from an elated mood to depression, and then back to elation is not conducive to a workplace that is bustling with ideas. Ideally, an innovation leader is wired to be happy and positive, so they will do what is required to maintain a similar stable environment in the workplace.

6. Confidence
In swiftly changing fields, the job comes with the requirement of constantly exploring the unknown. It is only natural to feel anxious about stepping into new and unknown territories. But it is necessary to explore the unknown to identify new opportunities. An innovation leader has the confidence in their ability to succeed, and holds the belief that the outcomes are likely to be positive even in the face of unknown risks.

7. Action oriented
Effective innovation leaders have the inclination to jump into the fray of action and actively participate. They feel energized by the action, and enjoy the exhilaration of leading change that leads to improvement and innovation.

8. Collaborative inquiry
Innovations are not always made by lone geniuses. Creative insights that come from intelligent and non-judgmental sharing of ideas can give rise to continual innovation that propels the organization to greater heights. An innovation leader facilitates the process of collaborative enquiry, and encourages open dialogue between people who are involved in the situation.

9. Serious play
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and dullness rarely sparks innovation. These leaders understand that routine work and traditional way of thinking can become rigid and put people in a rut. Innovation requires having fun, and bending rules. Innovation leaders seek to generate insight and knowledge through non-traditional ways such as experimentation, free exploration, improvisation, and rapid prototyping.

10. Paying attention
Paying attention means being a keen observer, looking deeply at the situation, and perceiving new patterns and details. The ability to notice things that may have gone unnoticed will help innovation leaders make accurate assessments and figure out the best solution to a problem.

Y Scouts is a leadership search practice that connects purpose-driven organizations with purpose-driven leaders. We believe that the best employer and employee connections start by connecting through a shared purpose.

What’s Your Why? Click here if you’re an employer looking to find an innovative leader. Click here if you want to make a difference in a new leadership role.


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