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It’s essential for businesses to stay one step ahead of the customer; even successful companies can disappear from the landscape if they aren’t constantly innovating and reinventing themselves.
However, not all leaders are able to reinvent their companies. Management consultant and business author Jason Jennings says that the problem often boils down to four issues — attachment, ego, control and complacency.
Four rules for innovative leadership
Lead your market by abandoning innovation killers and following these four rules.
1. Forget yesterday’s breadwinner
Every product has a life span – don’t hang onto your ‘Big Idea’ until it’s on life support, Jennings says in his book, The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical, Continuous Change.
2. Don’t get attached to a product or way of doing business
Form an advisory committee with several trusted customers who will give you feedback on what your business is doing well and what needs to be improved.
Then, act on their suggestions. Visit and read about competitors and successful businesses in other sectors to see how they’re growing and changing and get ideas that you can apply to your own products and services.
3. Check your ego at the door
Are you always the smartest person in the room? Then leave that room. When an employee contradicts you or presents different ideas or solutions, listen and praise them for speaking their minds.
Make it clear that no one is punished for ideas, whether they work out or not. Give credit, rewards, and recognition to employees who come up with new ideas.
A financial incentive and public praise within the company can help them share in the glory of good solutions and inspire others to come forward.
It’s essential for owners to meet with employees to tell them their ideas are valued and invite them to offer suggestions to the company’s management.
4. Don’t be a control freak
Entrepreneurs often have a tough time delegating important responsibilities. Hire smart, creative people and give them specific areas of responsibility.
Resist the urge to micro-manage — if the task or project was done well, let it stand even if it wasn’t done ‘your way.’ New approaches might teach you a thing or two.
Never accept the status quo.
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is one of the stupidest things ever said in business. You’re telling your people to leave things alone until there is a problem instead of actively looking for improvement.
Instead, train your managers to be open to new ideas at all times. If there is an environment of indifference in embracing ideas or rejecting them before they’ve even been heard, you are losing out on innovation opportunities.