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How Leaders Can Create A Business Culture Of Innovation

Leaders play a crucial role in fostering and promoting a culture of innovation. If you want to start encouraging your employees to innovate, then this is the article for you.

#1 Lead Authentically

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Most disingenuous leaders are not meaning to be inauthentic, but rather are trying really hard to be what they think a leader should be. They are copying what they see from leaders they've been around, from the media, and/or from experts that they follow and look up to. There are problems with each of those.

First, if you're just following other leaders you've been around, they most likely have been thrown into leadership like the rest of us with very little or no leadership development and are winging it. Second, if you're following the media for examples MOST of this is contrived in one way or another for good TV. Third, if you're following experts I commend you for working on yourself and your own development, but all of these experts are successful because they ARE authentic to themselves.

Contributors: Nikki Henry from Ladies Leading Ladies

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#2 Invest time in your team

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I believe that the best way for leaders to create a culture of innovation is to invest time in your team. Show them you are invested in them and that you are interested in their feedback. Sharing with them the importance of learning and growing from work is critical. When team members feel valued and worthwhile, they are more likely to invest in the growth and success of the business.

Leverage examples by demonstrating success stories of when team members have been innovative and found success. Share and communicate the success and outcomes. By showing that you are open to contributions from the team at large, you are likely to obtain significant interest and a culture of innovation.

Contributors: Deborah Sweeney from MyCorporation

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#3 Let employees help make the goals

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Share your company's overall quarterly or yearly goals with your employees and get feedback from them on how to reach those goals. By receiving their input and using their suggestions, employees know that their opinions are valued and will be more likely to come up with creative solutions to accomplish your company's goals.

Contributors: Crystaly Huang from ProSky 

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#4 Be Transparent about Successes

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Tell employees when their innovative ideas are being used! If someone's idea achieves or surpasses the intended target, make sure they know! Celebrate their achievement and make sure others in the company recognize their contributions as well. Give credit where credit is due. When people see that their ideas are being used and succeeding, they will be more likely to give more ideas in the future.

Contributors: Crystaly Huang from ProSky 

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#5 Don’t clip their wings

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A great CEO will teach their employees so well that they can leave at any time but treats them so well they never want to leave. That is my philosophy and it's important to be confident in the innovative talent you hire. Guide them but don't clip their wings, let them soar like an eagle even if it is not the way you would do it. That's the beauty in a team! Give them the freedom to think outside of the box and fly higher than the project ever could.

Contributors: Jacqueline Darna from NoMo Nausea

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#6 Innovation Inside: The Perfect 10

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Innovation starts from within a company's culture. We start the day with a Perfect 10. 10 minutes of reading new testimonials, replying to blog posts, or submerging ourselves in NoMo Nausea and our customers. It allows us a routine to start the day and drop all of our baggage at the door. Next, we do a brain blast. I lead my team thru what is coming up next, how we can be productive, and random ideas for future growth. They literally shout out ideas and I write them on a whiteboard, and always take a photo after.

Contributors: Jacqueline Darna from NoMo Nausea

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#7 Normalize Failure

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Innovation rarely works the first time. By giving your team room to fail, they know that they can try new things, which opens them up to the possibilities of their imaginations.

Contributors: Kyle Wierks from Kyle Wierks Consulting 

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#8 Diversify Your Team

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Studies have proven time and again that a diverse team is more creative, more innovative and more productive. When we cultivate a team of individuals with different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and experiences, we expand the opportunity to discover new, better and more creative ways of doing business. What if your team isn't diverse enough - and you can't afford to hire anyone new? Here are three ways to diversify your team without hiring more employees:

  1. Host diverse focus groups to gain insights and gather feedback;
  2. Attend events to meet and network with people from different backgrounds; and
  3. Invite diversity experts to spend some time with you and your team to expand your views.

Contributors: Ashley Cox from SproutHR

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#9 Create a creative utopia

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While it’s not a universal experience (and very much depends on company culture), some employees have restraints put on their creative expression. Those might be physical restraints, like rules against whiteboards and Post-it notes out in the open, or ideological restraints that stop the creative process in its tracks. Maybe you work in a creative utopia, or maybe you don’t. But creativity is delicate. It needs room to grow and a nurturing environment to bear fruit. And creativity leads to innovation. What can you do if your work environment is required to be a little too clean for creativity? See if you can carve some room—or a room—out as a brainstorming safe space. And that ability to try, to invent, to fail without criticism is critical to creating the kind of emotional safe space employees need to do their best work. It’s an idea I’ve heard echoed again and again from employees. 

Contributors: Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré from NicholeElizabethDeMeré 

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#10 Empower Your Team to Make Decisions

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Innovation typically comes from the bottom up within your organization. Your employees who are in the thick of the day-to-day of your business are the ones who can most often see areas for improvement. Empower them to speak up when something isn't working and share innovative, out-of-the-box, the sky's the limit ways to improve.

Contributors: Marc Lewis from Remedy Review

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#11 Have A Positive Company Culture That Encourages New Ideas

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A positive and motivational company culture will inspire your employees to stay and grow with the company. Make it easy for your team to test out new ideas and innovate. We teach our employees to not be afraid or hesitant to bring new business ideas to the table. We also show our team members that there are very few obstacles if they want to try out a new project or method of doing something. Our company is all about testing and optimizing, so if our people feel like it’s too much of a hassle to try a new idea or approach to doing things, then we will all suffer. If a team member has an idea, it’s usually as simple as asking us for a quick thumbs up. In rare cases, it requires us to talk it through. 

Contributors: Ross Cohen from BeenVerified

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#12 Kaizen

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It's important to encourage workers to not settle with the status quo and always look for opportunities to innovate. We have emphasized this in our culture doc, monthly meetings and promotions. We even have a yearly award for Innovation of the year. We continually encourage our team members to be 'intrapreneurs' within MonetizeMore. However, the biggest contributor to our culture of innovation is one of our main cultural pillars: Kaizen.

This is the ideology coined by Toyota that believes that everything can be improved and deserves to be improved. Each of our team members strives to improve themselves at least a little bit every day and everything around them. Each team member looks at every facet of the company and has the top of mind question in their head at all times, How can this be improved?

This mindset leads to innovation because our team members are always looking at clever ways how to improve processes and tech around them. If innovation is consistently top of mind for our team members, it tends to happen at a rapid rate.

Contributors: Kean Graham from MonetizeMore 

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#13 Provide constant stimulation

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In today's business climate employers must take drastic measures to engage, activate and retain their talent. Keeping team members invested in their company and in having harmonious dynamics amongst their staff have become vital components in preventing churn and to creating the best results in their industry. Providing constant stimulation and looking for ways to inspire individuals is a great way to spur on innovation.

Contributors: Tyler Butler from 11Eleven Consulting

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#14 Volunteerism

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Through volunteerism, team members can experience the amazing feeling of paying it forward. But, besides for this, they will grow more committed to their company, feeling satisfied that they are working for one of the good guys. These encounters provide team members with a break from normal office interactions with their peers and an opportunity to connect on a different level. The improved interpersonal relationships that spawn from these volunteer offerings inevitably facilitate great synergy and collaboration, leading to more innovation.

Contributors: Tyler Butler from 11Eleven Consulting

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#15 Celebrate All Innovation

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Many companies think of innovation too narrowly. Others spend too much time searching for the perfect definition of innovation. Some companies declare a certain group is the innovation group. (But then so what are the other groups doing – non-innovation?!)The best practice leaders recognize and celebrate all innovation in their companies. It can be innovation from a person or team on the manufacturing line or an admin who finds a new way to improve efficiency or the person close to the customer who develops new ideas.

The point is that the leadership drives this attitude by talking about it, celebrating it, rewarding the big ideas and making it important. They make it everyone’s job to be innovative, not a person, or group or a consultant. They make innovation everybody’s job.

Contributors: Wayne Strickland from Wayne Strickland Speaking and Business Consulting

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#16 Get Out of the Way

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One of the biggest contributors to a team that lacks innovation isn't typically about the team itself. It's usually about you - the leader! The more you try to control your team, the more you end up stifling their creativity and innovation. Allow your team to get their creative juices flowing by giving them a problem to solve - and then getting out of their way. By giving them the time and freedom to collaborate on their own, you'll be surprised at the inspiring ideas and solutions that arise. Team members aren't constricted by the same worries that leaders have. They don't see the business in the same way. Which allows them more flexibility to dream up new ideas and devise new methods for solving problems you may have been dealing with for years. 

Contributors: Ashley Cox from SproutHR

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#17 Enable Your Team to Focus on Their Passions

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Employees typically come up with powerful and innovative solutions when they're working on something they're passionate about. When you believe in what you're doing, you think about it on the drive into work, in the shower and even in your sleep. It doesn't end up feeling like work and all of the time for creative, unbridled thinking often leads to the best innovations.

Contributors: Marc Lewis from Remedy Review

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#18 Evolve Your Business Model

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See something that isn't working? Change it! Our website was born out of a creative agency after we realized our model was broken. Our business wasn't profitable and we were no longer winning at the game we set out to play so we changed our focus and set out to do something we're passionate about.

Contributors: Marc Lewis from Remedy Review

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Written by Zak Parker

Article Writer, Pianist, Internet Marketing Enthusiast; I delve into a variety of creative mediums and take advantage of what they have to offer. With experience in SEO, Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing and Advertising, I'm a plethora of general marketing knowledge and enjoy helping those new to the game get their foot through the door. I'm always excited to hear of the latest method, or if the chance presents itself, create my own.

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