It sounds almost too obvious, doesn’t it?
Through transformational leadership you can foster creative solutions by establishing innovative platforms for employee-created ideas.
Doing this can take a shift in thinking away from management-only solutions that others implement, to seeing employees as a powerful source of innovative solutions, as well as successful implementation.
Many of the most successful organizations in the world today are finding that creating new avenues for employees to collaborate and be innovative yields possibilities for growth. Just being aware of some of what others are accomplishing can inspire your own creative work.
For example, Wells Fargo and Unilever are using technology to engage employees’ creativity in a way that almost one fifth of all enterprises now use–cloud computing and websites. They succeed by establishing platforms for brainstorming and creative worker-generated solutions. Such platforms give employees a place to contribute new ideas, source solutions, and create prototypes that can be translated into actual projects.
At Intuit (the personal finance-software developer), employees not only suggest new ideas, but also gather resources and staff needed to go to market. All this is done without management approval. The results are clearly emerging in the dozens of products and features now producing revenue.
EMC, the big data organization, hosts innovation contests where strategic problems are posed by various business units for employees to solve. Workers create solutions and give input, as well as vote online for the top ideas. Outstanding breakthroughs also come when employees team up to breathe life into some of the innovative solutions that are failing.
Transformational leadership can also provide a unique way of restructuring the organization that empowers employees to lead innovation.
At Gore, a team drives everything. In fact, if you can convince others that you have a great idea with potential, you can start a team.
These teams form the main structural units of the company and are comprised of self-managed groups of associates who are responsible to each other. They rely on each other’s creative contribution for a project’s success and even determine each other’s compensation.
Here are some keys to the structure and principles that foster innovation at Gore:
- Lines of communication are direct and responsibilities are lateral.
- Information and peer review are a norm.
- They have more coaches than bosses.
- If you give the right people good tools and knowledge, it will bring out the best in everyone.
- If you trust in individuals, they will do the right thing.
Gore’s innovative structural approach to managing and empowering employees to be creative is yielding great results. They are one of the largest private firms in the world, and reportedly one of the most profitable.
The common approach at all these organizations is an active commitment and awareness that people are not only their greatest asset, but also a treasure house of creativity and innovation.
What actions can you take this week, small or large, to empower others to provide innovative leadership?