Innovative Leadership – What is Your Development Path?

This post was co-written with Jason Miller, contributing author of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers.

We believe that leadership innovation is a process of improving leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on personal and organizational performance. By adopting this view of leadership as an improvement process, we can assume that there are various stages of maturity an individual will demonstrate at any given point in the journey to become an innovative leader as reflected in the table below. If you are an emerging leader, you may not see yourself as an already successful leader, but as a new leader. Irrespective of where you are along the path, by following a structured process, you will increase your effectiveness and the success of your organization.

Kelly is an emerging leader, managing a small staff of employees and in many cases working shoulder to shoulder with them to accomplish tasks as part of the team. Her approach was very effective until she had a team member pass away unexpectedly. This disruption required her to build her leadership and management skills quickly to respond to a very real set of challenges the team needed to face. While it seems an unlikely time to start focusing on developing leadership skills that is what Kelly needed to do. She realized she needed support during this challenging time. She began focusing on defining the processes clearly and identifying how work would be most effectively accomplished with a new team member. This crisis forced Kelly to quickly master some key skills for emerging leaders, she took responsibility for the team’s success, she clarified the work and roles and responsibilities, and she understood the impact of her decisions and took the time to perform a thorough analysis on some key issues to develop a plan to go forward. She also accelerated her plans to develop and cross train her team to provide greater flexibility for everyone. Her team emerged from this crisis strong.

This table walks you through some of the criteria we evaluate when determining the leadership stage. Work focus is the level of responsibility you take on during a normal work week; decision time horizon refers to the general time frame considered when you make decisions; and complexity is the level of your tasks—this could include the intricacy of a single task, or the fact that you are managing many tasks, projects, processes, and even systems or enterprises.

Innovative Leadershp Development Continuum

Using the Continuum to Create a Development Plan

We created the continuum and workbooks to help leaders and managers understand the skills to master at their current level and also which ones to start practicing to move to the next level. The tool is part of an integrated leadership development program designed to help people move through the continuuum. By using the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum, you can create a development plan designed to help you develop to higher levels of responsibility.

Reflection Questions:

  • Where are you on the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum?
  • Do you have a development plan that will help you master key skills at your current level?
  • Are you building skills that will allow you to transition to the next level?

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative and effective leader? If so, take this free online Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale. If you are looking for tools to help develop your ability to be an innovative leader, check out the 2012 International Book Award winning Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Metcalf & Associates, Inc., offers assessments, coaching, and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative and effective leaders and improve your organizational success.

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