There was a time in history when the only thing that matters in running a company is extensive research and planning. Objectives, goals, points of action, strategies and timelines were very important in business success. These elements are still important in the success of an organization during the current times. However, with the rapid changes in the environment, especially in the business and marketing sector, it is not enough that the leaders of competitive businesses know how to set their goals, strategize and take action. If before the trends were regular and have a regular pattern, today, this is rarely the case. The business environment is very unpredictable, and so is its market. Competition is stiff and new things are coming out. Products and services which were not necessary nor wanted before, are now being patronized by consumers.
Take for example, mobile phones. These were not necessities before. They were mainly used by businessmen, professionals and those who have the luxury of spending a dime in order to earn a unit. But now, almost everyone owns a mobile phone. These mobile phones were huge and heavy to carry. But now, one can even forget he is carrying one because of its light weight and small size. Was it the people’s demand which made all these happen? Nope. It was the innovative minds of the companies behind this cellular phones and the leadership which took them to dare introducing it to the market. Can you name successful leaders in the market during the popularity of mobile cellular phones? Motorola was among the first companies who introduced hand-held mobile phones. Then there were improvements introduced by some companies like Ericsson (Sony), Nokia, Apple, Samsung and many other players in the market. And as history tells us, the popularity of Nokia slowly diminished. But Apple, Samsung and Sony continuously provided the market with something new and something to look forward to by its consumers. The mobile industry players are now added with LG, ZTE, Panasonic, Lenovo, Microsoft (which bought Nokia), and many other companies.
In the photography or camera industry, the most popular then was Kodak. The phrase “Kodak moment” gave so much impact to families, friends and groups of people because it somehow implies a moment worth treasuring and keeping for stills. But just like Nokia and other players in the mobile phone industry, its popularity diminished. Its product, which used to be demanded by consumers, can no longer compete with other brands. With the passing of time, Nokia failed to keep up with the Android OS nor compete with the Apple IOS. Kodak also failed to improvise when photography merged with mobile phones and when times already did not demand the printing of photos and instead encouraged posting in social media. The businesses which got lost in the industry were the ones which failed to capitalize on innovation.
Thus, innovation is a key to every successful business. But innovation cannot flourish without strong and innovative leadership. Due to changing and unpredictable circumstances of the industry, every business needs creative leadership, innovative systems and tools, and the power to fuel up these 2 into performing and showing up in the company. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, there are 2 components of Innovation Leadership: (1) An innovative approach to leadership and (2) Leadership for innovation. The first one encourages a leader to be creative and input new ways in his style of leadership that would not only inspire the people he is leading but also himself. The second one points out that a leader must create an environment within the business which will motivate and encourage the employees to think outside the box and to not be afraid to voice out their ideas.
An innovative approach to leadership drives the leader to continuously learn new skills which are useful to his position and to the company. It enables him to learn new ways and means to effectively and efficiently manage the business. Innovative approach to leadership creates a non-monotonous environment and sets an open mind of the leader himself. An innovative leader considers every opinion of his employees and listens carefully to the market. Listening to subordinates and most importantly listening to the market provides an open line of communication from the users to the company manufacturer or provider. With this scenario, it would be easier for the business to identify the needs and wants of its market and innovate its products or services, the way the market wants them to be. Leadership for innovation, on the other hand, empowers employees and workers of the company. With this kind of empowerment, it pushes employees and workers to work hard and do their best to come up with new ideas for the business. Giving them a voice and giving them the opportunity to contribute something to the business is a way of recognizing their participation in the success of the business. Remember, recognition is a tool for employee motivation.
With these components in a business, the company is given a chance to continuously improve and innovate its products and services. A perfect example is the way the mobile phone manufacturers and computer companies are being managed these days. Almost every year, a new feature is being introduced or a new system debuts in the market. The business industry is competitive and dynamic. If a business company would not lead itself to ride into the innovation wheel, then it would be left behind.