Nature. Nurture. Nightmare — Innovative Leadership Traits

behind the R&D lab

This is Part II of this week’s innochat on Twitter. Part I is here.

Leadership Traits

Marshall’s next question was what are the traits of leaders of those innovative enterprises that people admire?

“Innovative leaders adopt a ‘beginner’s mindset — open, collaborative and deeply curious,” said Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar). They are “guided by imagination first, logic second.”

They can be “both fiercely competitive and humble, a balance of EQ and IQ,” he said.

“Sticking to one’s gut and not letting go. Innovators are often on their own island fighting for a cause,” said Stacy Leidwinger (@StacyLeidwinger).

“My favorite leaders are those that set unreasonable expectations and help me achieve what I didn’t think possible,” said Harvey Briggs (@OBX_Harvey). “They have great filters, they don’t get distracted by noise,” he added.

In a similar vein, Perry Puccetti (@DelphiUSA) said, “They listen, ask questions, leverage talent and set standards.”

Renee Hopkins spoke of how they include everyone in the organization with their “ability and willingness to establish a culture of collaboration for all — introverts, extroverts, engineers and English majors!”

Other qualities mentioned included perseverance/stubbornness, the ability to face adversity, the ability to say ‘no,’ and foresight.

They “set the destination and are willing to let others reach it via their own paths,” said Gwen Ishmael (@Gwen_Ishmael). “They are master story tellers! Great stories inspire, engage and refresh.”

Summing up the qualities he saw mentioned, Marshall said, “I see a string of ‘uns’: Innovation leaders are unreasonable, unstoppable, unfathomable, uncomfortable, undeniable…”

The ability to say ‘no’ is important, many of the tweeters agree. Some ideas need to be put on hold or nixed, said Natasha Gabriel (@Natasha_D_G). Taking that further, Tom Asacker (@TomAsacker) said innovation leaders “have an uncanny sense of timing.” Ishmael agreed. “How true. Being too soon is as bad as being too late,” she said.

Ends Justify the Means

Marshall’s final question was how do the ends justify the means in building an innovative enterprise?

“You need to watch this,” Leidwinger said. “You can’t walk on everyone to get your way. True leaders bring evangelists to their side over time.” Ishmael said, “You still have to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

“When [the] means is experimentation and accepting the possibility of failures, it fosters a creative process,” said Haley Montgomery (@itsasmallpond).

“I’m very suspicious of the idea that ends justify means. The means shape the process and become the ends,” said Mike Parker (@Sysparatem).

Jose Briones (@Brioneja) said “Jobs was the exception rather than the rule. [He] succeeded by force of personality and genius. [That] model is not reproducible.”

“My biggest concern with Jobs biography is the implied permission to treat people appallingly to suit your ends,” said Marshall. “Life is too short to work with people who make life miserable. If you can’t be pleasant I’d rather not work with you,” he added. Asacker agreed. “I would have told Jobs take a flying leap,” he said.

Illustration, “Behind the R&D Lab,” courtesy of Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig on Flickr.

One thought on “Nature. Nurture. Nightmare — Innovative Leadership Traits

  1. Pingback: John P. Muldoon » Nature. Nurture. Nightmare. What Does it Take to Build an Innovative Enterprise?

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