Why is Innovation Leadership Important for Growth and Invention?

by / ⠀Career Advice Entrepreneurship / May 24, 2022
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Being an innovator or an inventor has long been heralded in the annals of human history. Some make it their life mission to create and to learn about the world around them, lifting up society with new ways of living. Leonardo da Vinci is typically cited as the pinnacle in this regard. Fostering innovation leadership is key to a successful business.

However, what innovators need is a leader to guide them. And then there are others, the ones who accidentally create something spectacular.

It was the year 1905 in Oakland, California. 11-year-old Francis “Frank” Epperson had mixed a powder for soft drinks into water. He left the cup outside by accident on the porch. The stirring stick froze into the ice concoction. Epperson introduced the “popsicle” to a fireman’s ball in 1922 and it became a sensation.

Both of these men were innovators and inventors, but they were not leaders. Just two people who had both become inventors by purpose and mistake.

Before them, during them, and after them, there have been many innovators and inventors. Each with ideas to progress the human race and have us go to bold new places and discover new ideas.

So what does this have to do with leadership?

Leaders do not have to be in a position of leadership to be a leader. No one does. A leader stands up. Leaders accomplish things.

Both da Vinci and Epperson were led by leaders at some point. For da Vinci, he started as an apprentice and learned from many at the workshops that he frequented. For young Epperson, he had teachers, parents, and other adults in his life that he looked up to.

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But once again, how does leadership lead to innovation and invention?

Being a leader means that you are in charge.

You want to point your sail in whatever direction the wind is blowing so that you can set sail for success. That means you need a crew. Whoever is a part of that crew needs to have that drive that you look for.

So how do you find that drive? That drive is through freedom and creativity. Creativity is what created the popsicle, even if it was by accident. But those like da Vinci are inspired by the world around them. They take in the skills from their forefathers and learn from them. Then, they apply that knowledge, no matter how ancient, and put it to good and modern use.

As a leader, you should encourage and even demand creativity from your employees.

Those who are more creative in nature will see that as an opportunity. If anything, they will come to you with their ideas. However, that doesn’t mean every idea will stick to the wall. That is where communication is key.

Clear communication smoothes out the creative process.

Be direct and honest with what you are looking for. That will help narrow down the ideas for the creative types.

Sometimes you have employees with unrefined ideas or thoughts that would be better for a different project. Gently let them know that those would be better if they were a little more detailed or for something else. That way, they are still excited about their ideas but still get an understanding of what you are looking for.

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However, as the leader, you are the catalyst to the brainstorms that are about to come. Keep things organized — and within the bounds of reason — to keep your employees in line.

This also leads a leader — see what we did there? — to understand that innovation and invention come from a  productive workplace.

And how does one create a productive workplace?

Through the promotion of creativity.

Have your workers lead themselves…to a degree. Have them run their ideas for projects by you.

Your employees come from all walks of life and can offer all sorts of thoughts that come from their own experiences. Which, speaking of experiences, often leads to innovation.

Give your employees opportunities for personal growth and growth in the company by offering workshops, getaways, conventions, and other like-minded ideas that help with innovation.

Leadership is intertwined with innovation because it all comes from seeing things differently. You took your business ideas and leadership styles from those who were also inspired by innovation. It is a long line of creation because a human dared to think differently from the rest. Those who do often change the world for the better.

It’s your duty as a leader to root out the innovators of your workplace or even in life. Then, you give them what they want. Encourage through example and seek out innovative ways to elevate your company. Doing that is going to inspire your employees. In turn, they will tell friends, family, and more. Thus, the cycle continues.

We owe a great deal to those in the past who were ostracized, ridiculed, and even prosecuted for their “radical” ideas. So take lessons from the past so that you can apply them to the present…and teach the future.

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About The Author

Tristan Anderson

Hello! My name is Tristan Anderson and I live in Manhattan, Kansas. I enjoy being in nature and animals. I am also a huge geek who loves Star Wars and has a growing collection.