Leadership and innovativeness are hard, but not impossible, to teach. Innovative leaders are strong willed, but know how to listen to subordinates. They are experts in their field but know the limits of their knowledge. Learn about innovation from some of world’s greatest entrepreneurs.
Do not blindly accept conventional wisdom
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, created one of the most widely used database management systems in the world. Ellison credits much of his success to his willingness to challenge conventional thinking:
“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.”
According to Ellison it is important for entrepreneurs to have an unique view of how the world operates and what the future will hold. What is considered conventional thinking will in not too long be outdated. Ellison likes to remind people that only 200 years ago slavery was considered a moral practice by many. People have a hard time imagining a world much different than the world they live in today. Innovative leaders have some idea of what the future might hold and prepare for it. Ellison’s independent thinking allowed him to create a product that changed the world but that many thought was unnecessary and impossible to create.
Find new ways to brand a company
When Phil Knight started Nike, a sports apparel company, he did not have the budget to buy expensive advertising in Sports Illustrated or other sporting news publications. Knight thought that the most cost effective way to get exposure in the press was to pay athletes to wear the company’s products. It did not take long for him to gain as much or more exposure than the company would get had it used traditional advertising techniques, for a fraction of the price. Nike continues to use this strategy for advertising; the company currently endorses Roger Federer, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and countless other high profile athletes.
Invest in learning skills
One of the ways Warren Buffett believes a leader can stay innovative is by investing in learning skills. No matter what happens to a business it is impossible to take away what people learn. Investing in learning new skills can keep leaders and employees innovative in a world where technology is always changing. Learning new skills does not need to be limited to the technological. He also believes that people should invest in communication skills. Buffet suggests that everybody read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Learning new skills will make help make any leader more innovative.
Being innovative is hard to task to accomplish by itself. There are however concrete steps people can take create an environment where innovation is possible. We cannot control the talent with which we are born, but the effective person does everything he or she can to create an environment which enhances the way we use that talent.