Ratatouille’s famous Chef Gusteau once stated, “Anyone can cook.” Greatness therefore is not limited to a select few, but available to all. Leaders have the distinct honor and responsibility of crafting an organizational culture that fosters creativity, empowering all those whom they lead to become the great innovators they were destined to become. In any game of life, including business, there are clear winners and losers. So, what makes a championship team? Simply answered, it is how leaders capitalize talent. To win, you had better capitalize better than the competition and that is impossible unless you harness the creative power of your team members.
Three core concepts will assist any leader, whether starting a new venture, or maintaining an existing organization, to build and sustain a people of purpose and a culture of excellence, dedicated to becoming innovating machines.
Anyone Can Cook
First, destroy the notion that good ideas only come from the top. Unless you believe and practice the concept that good ideas can come from anywhere, you will risk stifling creativity in your organization. In today’s ever increasing competitive environment, organizations cannot hope to win without first demonstrating a commitment to building high performing teams which are dedicated to a common vision, and that vision must include encouraging all employees, from the part-time teller to the CEO, to express their ideas. One of the simplest recipes to remedy stifling innovation is to believe and practice that anyone can cook. Then you will build winning teams, comprised of individuals who believe in the journey. That flexibility will help to ensure that you are always at the cutting edge of innovation, as you empower your cooks to create a delicacy.
Inclusion: Recipe For Success
Second, foster an atmosphere of inclusion in which diversity and empathy are flourishing. A diversity of perspectives and opinions is crucial for organizational success, especially for those that compete in a highly commoditized market. A higher level of perspective can assist the organization in meeting and exceeding the needs of a larger group of current and potential members. Understand however, that with diversity, conflict is inevitable. Organizations can sometimes be plagued with judgment and ridicule from supervisors and co-workers alike. A negative, judgmental working environment can quickly stifle creativity and innovation. Without these two components, an organization cannot hope to identify opportunities, let alone be on the cutting edge of adding member value. However, it is not the conflict itself that will destroy an organization; it is the inability of leaders to effectively manage it. When properly managed, conflict can present great opportunities for growth and development, spurring creativity and innovation. To ensure highly effective idea generation, leaders should tirelessly work to create an open-minded organization in which ideas are shared, mutual respect is embraced, diversity is encouraged, and empathy is a core practice. Empathy leads to the path of understanding and inclusion. The most successful leaders will be those who constantly observe the behavior of others, especially members. Observing human nature will teach you more than any survey you could ever conduct. As you observe and interact with existing and potential members, you will form relationships of trust that will shape the user experience and bring your brand to top of mind.
Never Skip Dessert
Third, reward good ideas immediately and consistently. Recognizing and rewarding creativity can act as a strong catalyst in promoting a culture of innovation. This process first begins with eliminating the notion that mistakes cannot happen. If simple mistakes are punished, you will create an atmosphere of secrecy. As a result, training suffers, trust deteriorates, and members suffer the consequences. Change this mindset by instilling in employees the knowledge that mistakes can and do happen, and that they are accepted as opportunities to learn. Further encourage idea generation by rewarding employees for positive impacts their ideas have on the organization. Rewarding employees builds confidence and successful innovation is inseparably connected to the human condition. People-focused creativity can be cultivated, taught, and mastered. Leaders should encourage and reward small successes, as this will instill confidence in your team, inspiring them to share more ideas and embrace more challenging goals for creativity and innovation. Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s DNA. Innovative individuals exist everywhere and the savvy leader will build a championship team by ensuring the creation of an innovation machine within their organization. Inspire your people to share your vision and perhaps more importantly, your insatiable curiosity.