“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
–Woody Allen

Can you readily step out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to try new things despite the possibility of failing?  Most of us struggle with both of these, which unfortunately impact our ability to be innovative.

Thomas Alva Edison is considered one of the most famous innovators of all time. It is alleged that Edison’s friend and former employee Henry Ford, requested that Edison’s final breath be captured in a sealed test tube. Wouldn’t it be great if we could capture, and then share, the breath of the greatest problem solvers, those that were creative, those with practical and life changing solutions? Read more about Edison.

Change for many is unsettling; it may make us feel threatened, fearful, and uncomfortable, but what if we viewed change as an opportunity? As leaders we need to search for opportunities, we need to experiment, and we need to take risks. Leadership and innovation go hand in hand. To be a great leader means having the courage to look beyond the status quo, facilitate growth and improvement, and yes, sometimes experience dismal results.

To be innovative, we must learn, observe, and keep our skills current. We need to have a strong sense of self, while understanding our organization, and our customer base. We will be most successful if we have the knowledge to anticipate the needs of others, which will hopefully promote innovative ideas.

We can’t work in a vacuum. We need to have a vision and be passionate about what we do, and we need to enlist others to share that vision and achieve success. Our staff, peers, customers, and partners can all be engaged for fresh and creative ideas and solutions. Without innovation and growth, the value we provide will be diminished, and we’ll become stagnant, obsolete, and be replaced.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
-Steve Jobs

So ask yourself and answer honestly: Are you an innovator or a follower?