What does it mean to be a leader in the workplace? Is it someone who strongarms their employees to do what they want and doesn’t recognize hard work, only the failures? Or is a leader someone who encourages their employees to meet their goals, even the hard ones, and recognizes employees for their hard work. Innovation in a business is important and innovative management styles can be the key the success! How and if management inspires innovation and creative thinking in their employees can be the key to success in any business! This article will give insight into how to structure your leadership style in a way that will help to inspire innovation and forward-thinking in their employees throughout the office.
Management practices to avoid
Here are a few things that managers do that may be dampening employees’ ability to be innovative.
- Not allowing for mistakes
- Not rewarding good behavior
These practices are toxic to the work environment because they lead employees to feel that their creativity and hard work are not rewarded. While some work environments, like call centers, require a certain level of micromanagement, this also puts a damper on employee’s abilities to work to their strengths or to possibly find new ways of doing a procedure.
Showing favoritism is extremely damaging in the workplace. Make sure when recruiting potential employees a new position is qualified and motivated are not getting an opportunity due to anything other than their skillset and attitude.
While there are mistakes that do require disciplinary action, such as harassment, not following procedure on a high-risk process, or blowing a sales deal, there are small mistakes that can and do happen to everyone. For example, missing a deadline due to unforeseen problems or forgetting to include an item in a do-to list for another member of the team. These mistakes are small and while they slow the team down, they do not jeopardize the project. Use these as a learning experience for the employee, especially if they proactively go back to resolve them. As long as they do not repeat the same mistake, small missteps can be overlooked.
If employees don’t feel like their hard work is recognized by management, or worse, that management only sees the mistakes, they won’t feel like rising above and beyond the scope of their job descriptions.
Leadership styles that inspire innovation
So now that we’ve talked briefly about how leaders can stifle innovation. What is innovative leadership?
First, they must have relevant expertise. If a leader is not familiar with the subject, they might be less willing to try new things beyond proven procedures and not recognize a great idea when it is presented to them.
There are some other qualities of innovative leadership that can inspire employee:
Imagination and authenticity
The same boring routines will lose employees’ interest. Be willing, and more importantly excited to listen to new ideas and try new approaches to common problems. Especially for existing procedures that are not working so well.
Come up with new ways to solve everyday problems or do menial tasks. At the very least this keeps employees from getting bored. It might even prove to be a better solution than what was done before, or can be applied to something else!
Communication and reciprocal trust are key
It is essential that the leader must be communicative to team members. Be vocal and let them know what your expectations are and what you need from them. Be prepared to listen to team members as well and respond to their needs expediently! Employees feel more valued when they know that they are heard.
An innovative boss should be as helpful as possible. If there is something that you can do to help a team member with a problem, either by providing support with management or providing resources, and you know that the employee will get the job done, provide that support! Which leads the second point:
Be accountable and committed. There is nothing worse than a leader who agrees to do something and then does not deliver. Worse, when they make excuses about why they could not deliver. If you were not able to follow through, own up to it and state why, if there is a good reason. Likely your employees will forgive you. If you tried to keep your word, but for some reason were unable to, people will see that you did your best for them.
You want your employees committed to doing a good job, be committed to helping them get there!
Be enthusiastic and believe in what you do
Being excited about things rubs off on people. If you believe in the work you do, so will others. People can sense when someone loves their job and loves what they do and want to work for those types of people.
Even if you are not excited about the project or product, try to find an aspect of the project that you do enjoy. Maybe you hate brainstorming, but love writing- get hyped about what you do like rather than getting bummed about what you don’t.
Be honest with people, if you are excited about one aspect of the process but not another, let your employees know. People can tell right away if you’re not authentic and your sincerity and relatability will be valued.
That being said, if there is absolutely nothing about the job that excites you, fake it! …And maybe consider finding a new career you can look forward to. We all deserve to enjoy our jobs!
Make a culture they want to come to
If people are excited to come to work, they’ll be much more productive in turn more likely to be innovative. Maybe this means creating an Employee of the Month initiative where people are recognized, and their photo gets displayed. Maybe this means showing appreciation through a weekly catered lunch. Or maybe this simply means having a face-to-face conversation with individuals to tell them how much you appreciate all their efforts. There are a variety of ways to create a company culture where people feel supported and valued that costs little to nothing and can provide your employees with that extra boost to keep them going.
Do and not just say
Management sets the example for how the rest of the employees behave. If management doesn’t care about employee performance, neither will the employees. By maintaining a professional demeanor and positive attitude, you will hold yourself and the team accountable for upholding the same values during the day-to-day.
If you want your employees to exhibit certain qualities, show those qualities in yourself! Leading by example is always a good idea.
A management style that excites people to go above and beyond their goals and that makes people want to come into the office every day is the key to a successful business! Encouraging employees to try new things and take risks is key to innovation. Encourage, guide and motivate your team and watch them succeed!
This guest blog was written by Emily Banks. She is a Bay Area Native who got tired of SF’s cold beaches and decided to move to San Diego. She is currently a contributing editor for 365BusinessTips.com as well as a marketing expert for an online faucet supplier.