The following post is an excerpt from the recently released Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders by Maureen Metcalf, Steve Terrell Ed.D., and Ben Mitchell.
Leadership needs innovation the way innovation demands leadership, and by marrying the two, you can improve your capacity for growth and improved effectiveness. Let’s explore innovating leadership in a more tangible way by defining it in practical terms: What does innovating leadership really mean?
It is important to first understand each topic beyond its more conventional meaning. For example, most definitions of leadership alone are almost exclusively fashioned around emulating certain kinds of behaviors: leader X did “this” to achieve success, and leader Y did “that” to enhance organizational performance.
Even if initially useful, such approaches are still, essentially, formulas for imitating leadership, and are likely ineffectual over the long term. Innovating leadership cannot be applied as a monolithic theory, or as a simple prescriptive measure. It occurs through your own intellect and stems from your own unique sensibilities.
In order to enhance this unique awareness process, you will need a greater foundational basis from which to explore both topics, which means talking about them in an entirely different context.
Let’s start with a straightforward definition of global leadership:
Global leadership is a process of influencing people strategically and tactically, affecting change in intentions, actions, culture, and systems within a global context.
Leadership influences individual intentions and organizational cultural norms by inspiring purpose and creating alignment. It equally influences an individual’s actions and an organization’s efficiencies through tactical decisions.
Innovation, as an extension of leadership, refers to the novel ways in which we advance that influence personally, behaviorally, culturally, and systematically throughout the organization.
Innovation is a novel advancement that shapes organizations: personally, behaviorally, culturally, and systematically.
In addition to linking the relationship of leadership to innovation, notice that we’re also revealing them as an essential part of our individual experience. Just as with leadership and innovation, the way you uniquely experience and influence the world is defined through a mutual interplay of personal, behavioral, cultural, and systematic events. These same core dimensions that ground leadership and innovation also provide a context and mirror for your total experience in any given moment or on any given occasion.
Optimally, then, leadership is influencing through an explicit balancing of those core dimensions. Innovation naturally follows as a creative advancement of this basic alignment. In our experience, leadership and innovation are innately connected and share a deep commonality.
Therefore, marrying leadership with innovation allows you to ground and articulate both in a way that creates a context for dynamic personal development—and dynamic personal development is required to lead innovative transformative change.
Innovating global leadership means global leaders influence by equally engaging their personal intention and action with the organization’s culture and systems.
Though we are defining innovative global leadership very broadly, we are also making a distinct point: The core aspects that comprise your experience—whether it be intention, action, cultural, or systematic—are inextricably interconnected. If you affect one, you affect them all.
Innovative global leadership is based on the recognition that those four dimensions exist simultaneously in all experiences, and already influence every interactive experience we have. So if, for example, you implement a strategy to realign an organization’s value system over the next five years, you will also affect personal motivations (intentions), behavioral outcomes and organizational culture. Influencing one aspect—in this case, functional systems—affects the other aspects, since all four dimensions mutually shape each other. To deny the mutual interplay of any one of the four dimensions misses the full picture. You can only innovate leadership by comprehensively addressing all aspects.
To summarize, leadership innovation is the process of improving leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on their performance and the performance of their organizations.
An innovative leader is defined as someone who consistently delivers results using:
- Strategic leadership that inspires individual intentions and goals and organizational vision and culture;
- Tactical leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organization’s systems and processes; and,
- Holistic leadership that aligns all core dimensions: individual intention and action, along with organizational culture and systems.
To learn more about global leadership purchase the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.
To become a more innovative leader please sign up for the online leader development program . For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, reading the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and the Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations and participating in the online innovative leadership program with coaching. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.