If you want to lead a creative organization, managing your behavior is crucial. No matter how inspired your staff is to innovate, you need to show it is a priority. If you dont, your people will quickly lose interest and focus their creativity elsewhere. There are several ways to show which include communicating your vision. However, one thats often forgotten is your behavior. When staff are stifled, you as the leader lose out because youll not be getting everything they can offer. More likely than not, if youre inadvertently or deliberately inhibiting their creative spirit, theyll find an employer or boss who does nurture it. And youll lose a top performer. So to develop an innovative spirit in your organization, you should be looking at a number of things. One of those is your personal behavior as a leader. Behavior If you sit back and watch workforce behavior, youll discover that staff will often use similar phrases to their bosses. Theyll repeat their buzzwords. Theyll even wear similar clothes. This is because, despite what anyone says, the boss has a huge influence on the staff. The result of this is that poor leaders inspire poor performance in their staff. For example, if the boss is always late to meetings, a late culture develops across the organization. If the boss is sloppy in her communication, youll see staff also take little care in communicating the right information to the right people at the right time. So if you want to lead innovation in your workforce, make sure your behavior as a boss supports it. Here are some thoughts about how you need to examine your behavior and the power behavior has in developing an innovative workplace. These include your: * mindset * decisions * behavior * policies * conversations Mindset Unless you buy into the importance of innovation, youll never have the right mindset. Exhibiting the right mindset will encourage your staff to also adopt those attitudes. Without this, theyll never be sure if you really do like the idea of creative discontent. Likewise, if you have all the wrong mindsets such as prejudice, many of your staff too will pick these up and follow too. Get your mindset right first. Decisions Staff watch the decisions their bosses make very carefully. Everything from whether you will sign off on extra training courses to whether or not youre a stickler when it comes to overtime. If you are telling your staff that they need to take time and space to come up with new ideas or review their current work practices, yet dont give them any slack in their assignments, youll very quickly lose their trust. In one organization a boss kept telling his staff that it was OK to make mistakes in the pursuit of innovation. One young worker took this to heart. However, when he did make a mistake that cost the company ten thousand dollars, the boss fired him. No-one ever trusted the boss again. Especially when he told staff meetings it was OK to make mistakes. Trust was broken. A cold breeze of cynicism blew away any spirit of creativity. Making decisions that nurture innovation are not easy. Sometimes its like swimming against the tide. At other times we lose focus and accidentally fall into old habits. Guard against this at all cost. Make sure your decisions reinforce your priority to make your organization innovative. Behavior Your behavior will be the key indicator for many of your staff about whether you are serious about innovation. Lets not forget the old saying, actions speak louder than words. When I was at the BBC, we had a senior management team that kept talking about collaboration. They wanted the thoughts and ideas of the proletariat. Actually, they didnt use that word thats my editorial bias. Anyway, every six months or so, theyd invite 300 staff from this department to meet together. Theyd give rousing speeches about working together. And then they divide the room into groups to discuss and write down their ideas on how to improve the organization. Unfortunately, the senior management team ignored the comments. Even when one employee wrote a comment saying she had been insulted by a comment made by a senior manager at that meeting. No-one followed it up despite her giving her name. The first time the staff were brought together, they were enthusiastic. The second time, suspicious. The third, distrustful. Innovation was crushed. So was trust and respect. Remember, your behavior extends from leading large meetings to having individual conversations with staff. Of course it isnt just about meetings and whether you are good to your word. Do your staff see you walking around with a notebook to write down ideas? Do they see you create time and space to dream new ideas? Policies Every leader makes policy. It can be as simple as encouraging workers to start at 8:30 in the morning or as complex as how to deal with poorly performing staff. Dont create policies that stifle innovation. For example, if some people work better in the afternoon, allow flexibility for them to come in to office later and work later. If you want people to walk in the park and clear their head for ideas, dont set a policy that states any time out of the office is allowed only in that persons own time. Also, think about how the amount of policies may hinder creativity. Research has shown that the more policies an organization has, the more bogged down people become which stifles innovation. Think carefully when you set policy about whether it supports or undermines an innovative environment. Also think about unwritten policies that people follow for fear of punishment. And ask yourself if you can have less policy. Conversations An important place to model the right behavior for innovation and creativity is in the conversations you have with your staff. Are you displaying creative discontent and always asking, How can we do this better? Are you always open to new ideas from employees? Or do you cut them off mid-sentence? If youre a senior manager, your conversations need to inspire your managers to have the same conversations with their staff and reinforce the importance of innovative thinking. Conversations are generally informal. They are a powerful way of creating stories in your organization that ultimately make meaning of peoples lives at work. The rumor mill is a good example of this, although its usually a story gone bad. The more conversations you have with your people, the more you can influence them with your vision and build trust. If you dont regularly walk around, put a walk and talk in your calendar now. If you know they dislike you as a boss, now is the time to build back rapport and show them youre human. Without this, youll be stifling innovation. Your behavior as a leader is important So remember to think about your behavior as a leader. How you behave is as important as what you write in a memo and the content you include in a speech.
Originally published on June 17, 2011 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau