True leaders provide the thought leadership necessary for and create an open environment that fosters, genuine creativity—leading to true innovation in the policies, procedures, programs, and tools used by their organizations. As Alexander Hiam (the author of Business Innovation for Dummies) said, “Innovation is, in my book, simply a fertile union of creativity and leadership.”
Although true leaders do not suggest or implement change just for the sake of change (since doing so is simply disruptive, and creates unnecessary “churn” in an organization), they are not afraid of change. In fact, they embrace change for the benefits it brings.
True leaders have a genuine interest in helping their colleagues, teams, and organizations be as efficient and as effective as possible—thus they look for innovative ways of enhancing the organization’s productivity. You’ll often hear true leaders say, “Can’t we do this better, with less effort?”
Even then, when they innovate, they focus on doing so in a non-disruptive manner—with the understanding that changes in policies and procedures, as well as in technology, need to be well planned for, appropriately communicated, and rolled out in a fashion that leads to welcome adoption vs. disdainful resistance.
To affect positive change, true leaders cultivate a culture of creative thinking where “the rules” are challenged, and challenges are faced head-on.
Great managers may be very good at keeping a successful business operation and running smoothly. True (and innovative) leaders, however, strive for excellence—because simply doing things well just doesn’t light the fire of a true leader.