Ten Traits of Great Innovators

innovatorsOne of the keys to sustained business success is understanding and embracing innovation. All organizations — and not just the Googles and the Apples of the world — can become innovative, but it can be challenging for some business leaders to see innovation in their teams and businesses.

In a recent Forbes post, contributor Rebecca Bagley discusses ten traits all great innovators possess.

#1 Doing Things Differently

One of the hallmarks of a true innovator is the ability to do things differently or in a completely new way. Innovators “create environments in which employees are given the tools and resources to challenge the status quo, push boundaries, and achieve growth.”

#2 Creating Dynamic Organizations

By committing to authentic leadership, and giving employees clarity about their roles and responsibilities, innovators create a working environment that provides opportunity for professional growth. Employees who feel valued and respected achieve more, and give more back.

#3 Understanding Innovation Never Happens in a Vacuum

True innovators “build and sustain active, vibrant networks of people, assets, and organizations.”

Collaboration with other team members and employees gives innovators a chance to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They listen to feedback and put those suggestions into action.

#4 Committing to Diversity

By building diverse teams, innovators make themselves open to perspectives and expertise from a variety of world views.

“They understand it takes many different points of view to fully grasp the complexity of economic, technological, and other challenges.”

#5 Leading from the Center

Innovators lead from the center. They encourage risk-taking and brainstorming by removing the traditional top-down leadership approach that exists in many companies.

“They encourage employes to be creative and develop the skills they need to move on to the next level in their careers.”

#6 Avoiding Short Cuts

Complex solutions can mean taking higher risks, but innovators know that short cuts only reinforce the status quo and stifle growth.

#7 Understanding Innovation is Iterative

Business leaders who understand the need to continually improve on existing systems and introduce new products and services are innovators. They recognize that keeping competitive advantage requires constant effort to move beyond what has always been done.

#8 Breaking with the Norm

Conventional thinking limits growth opportunities, and true innovators take chances, breaking into new markets even when the evidence isn’t there that the market will support the idea.

#9 Looking for Different Metrics of Success

New products and services don’t always align with traditional metrics at the beginning, so innovators look for new, intangible ways of measuring success.

“Innovators understand paying too much attention to traditional business metrics can inhibit companies from making breakthroughs.”

#10 Contributing New Ideas

Innovators don’t just rely on their teams to come up with the exciting, new ideas; they cook up and contribute their own.

How can you embrace innovation in your organization?