‘A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.’ – Lao Tzu
There are a lot of blogs and worthy peer journals, sharing the importance of innovation in business success and survival. We all agree innovation is important, but how do
A summary of the role of leadership and soft skills in innovation.
we nurture innovation, as something which is integral to business process, and creates value within an organisation?
Exceptional leaders and authors highlight the importance of ‘soft’ skills for successful management and leadership.
Just recently, Tom Peters tweeted: ‘So called “soft” people skills drive implementation. Implementation = The “all important last 99%.”‘ (via Twitter @tom_peters)
In management practice you could:
(a) Ignore soft skills or give credence to ‘soft’ skills, as a key factor to nurturing performance, teamwork, in creativity and ultimate innovation;
(b) Not have the time to create unified organisational culture and understand knowledge networks for share between knowledge experts, as they;
(c) Prioritise performance targets, financial measures and delivery of products and services.
If you don’t focus on the soft skills of leadership and management, you will never achieve the right culture or environment that looks beyond the ‘big oiled machine’ i.e. your creaky daily operating performance measures, that will eventually fall apart if you generate a culture of performance driven targets. Your team will soon dissipate, as core team building principles of recognition and value gets overlooked.
In India, leadership is a key development aspiration for individuals; personal progress and career development, as can be seen by family culture, social expectations. An indication of the level of importance of leadership roles. are the number of individuals aspiring to become leaders and high flyer can be seen, through search engine analysis. Thousands of search terms are being entered on a weekly basis to try and ascertain leadership skills.
However, in practice we will often see management practices are not in tune with the importance of soft skills, in workplace delivery. Hours of effort from individuals accumulates in some profitable dividends – not ROI efficient. Duplication of daily effort, bureaucracy, plentiful labour and a ‘weak sense’ of ultimate organisation performance success – innovation.
In the west, we are now seemingly giving credence to soft skills, as enabling levers of business success and going back to management basics – engaging customers and internal teams with effective communication skills.
Soft skills are vital and so are leadership and learning styles that create boundless energy within teams. These should not be shunned. It is also a critical employability factor, that is often overlooked whilst studying and one that is a important factor in appointment and survival.
If you don’t innovate or create – your days are limited.
If you don’t engage – you don’t perform and nor will your team members.
Leaders are not about leading from the front, but allowing others to shine. Enabling learning styles and development psychometrics to be complemented in teams, along with technical skills, to create knowledge networks and creativity to flow.
In creativity, idea generation will only take place when you have the right people, with the right skills and knowledge in the right environment. As a leader, you facilitate this discussion, with strategic knowledge of your environment and organisation position. You are trusted to keep an eye for trends and changes that will impact company performance. You are trusted to lead teams, culture and performance beyond competition. You are trusted to lead flexible talented teams and held accountable if you are not business agile.
With ideas generated, you engage and lend a helping hand to innovate.
You acknowledge efforts and value individuals – targets are not the only reason why you give merit. Innovation is a slow development process and every skill, mini outcome and step achieved is an achievement – not just the end result.
So this image, shares with you some essentials for thought and reflection. Just the basics of innovation and I hope some indication of how relevant soft skills are to leadership success in innovation.
Leaders indulge in productive reflective time – make time out to read, absorb, question and create your own ideas on innovation and the relevance of soft skills in leadership.
Are you being inclusive, engaging and motivating? Or is it just the daily routine of making sure you deliver and meet shareholder, stakeholder and customer interests?
Everyone has time to reflect. The best leaders make time for self development and reflection and bring back so much more to their workplace.