Why do leaders need to innovate?

The success of a company lies in the ability of its leader.    A great leader like Lee Iacocca can help a company on a verge of going out of business to recover its position in the market.   A leader inspires people to achieve things they otherwise cannot do themselves.    Great leaders create a vision and provide the overarching framework so constituents know what they need to do to achieve that vision.

While leaders like Iacocca can turn things around or help people do things they otherwise cannot achieve, they don’t have the crystal ball that can predict the future.  For the future, a leader must learn to spot trends and analyze what needs to be done move the organization forward.

Determining when to innovate is a necessary ability and a crucial role so that the company can adpat to trends or even reinvent itself.  A leader either must develop that skill or be self-aware enought to hire or tap another to develop it.

Spotting and recognizing when to innovate can help the company be agile and compete in the marketplace.   Innovation enables the company to create new offerings differentiating from their competitors.  In essence, innovation is a leader’s business and must be his/her top priority. Without innovation, the company can fall behind and become obsolete.

To foster an environment that promotes innovation, the leader must provide the tools and resources that enable people in the organization to collaborate and exchange ideas.    Innovation can be in the following forms:  generation of new ideas through research and development, combining existing capabilities to create a new offering, or borrowing features from current product offering to create a new product or services.   The key to successful innovation is the willingness to share and engage everyone to participate.

In my opinion what separates a good leader from great leader is the ability to recognize change and embracing it by creating an environment that can help generate the change that can help the company cope with the change and get ahead of the curve, instead of reacting to the change.    As Aristotle said, “You are what you repeatedly do.  Excellence is not an event – it is a habit.”    Innovation must be repeated until it becomes a habit in order to keep the company head of the pack.

Leaders that innovate can lead their company to the next level or lead their market.  While the ones that keep the status quo will eventually miss out on the opportunity and become irrelevant.

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