Innovativeness: Leadership Threats Blog Series Post Three

This PLI Blog series is inspired by PLI’s support of the California Association of Directors of Activities annual convention and their theme “Licensed to Lead.”

Each day leaders face a myriad of threats that can delay or derail their best efforts. In this series we will concentrate on the top 10 threats to “National Leadership Security” and the specific leadership tool that is most effective at combating it.

Threat #3:  Problem-Focused/Inefficient/Bland
Leadership Tool of Choice: Innovativeness

Here are few statements that are creativity (and enthusiasm) killers for leaders:

  • What if it rains?
  • We’ve just got so much to do, I don’t see how we’ll find the time.
  • What if nobody shows up?
  • It’s been tried before. I’m not sure it’s going to work.
  • What if we don’t get approval?
  • Our budget’s been cut. So, we’re going to have to cut back on this.
  • Great idea. Let’s get a committee together to study it.
  • Here, let me show you how to do it.
  • That’s not how we usually do things.
  • I’m not sure that’s going to fly. Let me run it up the chain of command.

If you’re a leader who ever had a creative idea, wanted to try something new or just desired things to be fresh, different, fun, or more powerful, chances are you’ve also heard a statement like these before.

We’re sure the people who say these kinds of things have good reason to say them. And, we’re sure people who say these things aren’t trying to be negative. There is indeed practicality for dreaming with your head in the clouds and your feet firmly planted on the ground. But, it’s also statements like these that can squash the creative spirit, better approaches, and the bigger success that could be just an idea away.

Whenever you find people concentrating on problems rather than solutions, doing things the old way rather than finding new efficient approaches or going the safe bland way rather than a bold new way, you’re facing a threat to the leadership essential of innovativeness.

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen

The third PLI Essential is Innovativeness. We define innovativeness as creatively adding value. If you’re not expected to create positive value and growth, then you are not being asked to lead. You are actually being asked to manage. But, if those you serve want new levels of awesomeness in their world, then it’s time to get some innovativeness flowing.

Here are some insightful questions to help leaders get the PLI Essential of Innovativeness flowing:
  • How long has it been since you gave or heard an innovative idea? If it’s been longer than a month, get your solution antenna up higher, change your environment or alter your inputs.
  • Where do you collect, store, stash, and keep creative insights and ideas? Can you easily access them? There is indeed a time and place to share innovative ideas... make sure you can access yours when the time is right.
  • Do you take notes as you go? Life is full of amazing and creative lessons all around you. Take notes, debrief while an experience is fresh, replay how you would do it over again, etc.
  • Do you have a routine? Routines are great for consistency, but, they can lock us into being “set in our ways.” Try altering one small part of your schedule, route, or daily process for one week just to see what new things you discover.
  • Are you the most creative person you know? If you are, then you need to get busy networking to surround yourself with people with even bolder and crazier ideas to inspire yours!
  • Do you fear failure? Realize that we all have fear of falling flat. Know that fear of failure is the single biggest threat to being innovative. When you overcome fear you unleash creative output.

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