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The Difference Between Innovation and Leadership


The Difference Between Innovation and Leadership

This interesting article describes a few lessons on how students learn to create an environment where innovation thrives. Being intellectually curious is crucial in that perspective. Exploring for the information you need and connecting with people who can guide you in learning essential skills is important. This doesn’t only apply to being innovative, also to being a leader. What are the values and behaviours of leaders who are responsible for big innovations that disrupt?

In the article Jodi Goldstein, the head of Harvard Innovation Lab (I-lab), sums up seven essentials:

  1. Be a sponge
  2. Narrow is a good place to start
  3. Competition is good
  4. Ideas are great, but execution is what matters
  5. Spend time from people who are different from you
  6. Getting better is messy
  7. Innovation isn’t lightening, it’s simmering

All true. In a recent article I explained my insights on how current developments drive change, like longevity, new media, the computational world, global connection, social tools and smart machines and systems. Most of these developments hold and require a high degree of innovative thinking. In order to become as agile as the continuous change, creating an environment that empowers innovation will help you to enter the new era. An era that will be marked by technology, sustainability and shareability. It is the inevitable next level in business. Think big, start small and act fast. For that you need leadership. Leaders that enable people to try, learn, fail, so they can grow are indispensable when you want to unleash innovation. When you compare skills for innovation and leadership, they are not so far apart. Let’s look at the main leadership skills.

1. Curiosity: leaders have fun in learning new things.

They let learning be a core part of their day-to-day living pattern. They challenge themselves to go outside their own field. They are always eager to search the internet, take classes, read books, attend presentations and engage in dialogues. Learning leads them to the right track.

2. Tenacity: Leaders don’t give up.

They are on a mission, and always find another way. They are a master in the art of convincing people that their idea is smart and holds great added value. In that perspective, they surround themselves by people who will challenge them if they wander off down the lane of stubbornness.

3. Courage: Leaders are not fearlessness.

They are willing to act even when fear is around the corner. There’s a difference, for the greater good. They aren’t afraid of exposing themselves to lack of knowledge. The answers they’ll get and the feedback they will receive, will mostly bring them new ideas.

4. Humility: Leaders, although being self-confident, are very humble.

Admitting to not knowing and not being able to be the best in everything is one of the things they can do graciously. That’s why they persistently seek to learn as much as they can: they will never be done. There’s no growing-up, only growing. Therefore they gather people around them who remind them and challenge them when they are on the verge of getting stuck.

Are you an innovator or a leader?

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