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Leadership Skills for Sustained Innovation    [Date Added : 10/22/2012 ]
Today's business environment demands on-going innovation to stay ahead. Making innovation an organizational way of life requires developing these five leadership skills:

1. Challenge your assumptions.
The biggest enemy of innovation is the unspoken attitudes and beliefs we have about our customers, markets and businesses. And, the more success we achieve based on those assumptions, the more we tend to focus on protecting the status quo versus exploring what could be. Today's market leaders get ahead by shedding old ideas and ways of thinking faster than their competitors. This can only happen by challenging your assumptions on a regular basis.

2. Change your perspective.
The human brain tends to screen in data that proves us right and screen out anything that contradicts our prevailing point of view. As a result, we often filter, distort, or ignore the information coming in, so that we only see what we want to see. Changing your perspective enables the brain to break out of its rigid thinking patterns and see the world in new and different ways. It opens the mind to new possibilities, and focuses your attention on what could be rather than what is or what was. It also enables you to spot new patterns and connections that others might not see - a critical factor for successful innovation.

3. Ask the right questions.
Questions offer a powerful tool for opening people up to new ideas and possibilities. Too often, however, they keep people stuck in the past by focusing on the problem rather than the solution.

4. Question the right answer.
From an early age we're taught that there is only one right answer to every problem. As a result, we often pass over potentially better solutions because we're so sure the one we have is right. To nurture on-going innovation, forget about finding THE right answer. Instead, focus on identifying as many potential answers as possible. Then choose the best one (or combination of ones) that most supports your innovation goal.

5. Stop jumping to solutions.
Today’s hyper-fast business world creates a lot of pressure to make quick decisions. So we often tend to go with the first feasible solution rather than looking for better or different ideas. Look for different and/or better solutions.

Ultimately, innovation comes down to changing the way we think and learning to see the world differently. No easy task, but it can be done. And those who make it a habit will reap the rewards that on-going innovation can bring.

("The Top 5 Leadership Skills for Sustained Innovation," by Holly Green, Forbes.com, September 25, 2012. Copyright 2012 Forbes.com LLC(tm))
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