Innovative leaders are creative visionaries who have big ideas and, most importantly, can motivate people around them to turn those ideas into reality.
–Jeffrey Baumgartner

Would you be surprised to learn that the ability to produce innovative ideas is a shared issue for companies of all sizes?

Global staffing firm Robert Half Management Resources polled over 2,000 CFO’s from small to large companies, and asked how good their company was at innovation. Their findings were that only 30% of companies with 20 to 49 employees rated themselves as “very innovative” with ratings a bit higher (38%) for companies with 1000+ employees.

The survey also found that “too much bureaucracy”, daily tasks, and time required for problem resolution accounted for the low scores.

So how can scores increase?  Robert Half’s senior executive director, Paul McDonald feels that we as leaders are the greatest barrier.  We don’t always listen, we don’t always promote the ideas, and we don’t make coming up with new ideas a priority.

He recommends that:

  • Time be set aside to brainstorm with your team
  • Host internal events where employees can present creative business solutions to company leadership
  • Remove unnecessary red tape; simplify project requests and approval processes
  • Create a collaborative culture where employees can freely offer suggestions.
  • Make innovation an ongoing focus and support your employees ideas
  • Hire additional staff if heavy workloads are getting in the way of innovation

He also says DON’T:

  • Put creative thinking sessions on the back burner due to daily tasks
  • Restrict idea sharing for meetings
  • Be “absent”; listen to ideas
  • Stretch your team so thin their only focus – and measure of accomplishment – comes from crossing items off their to-do lists
  • Place unrealistic expectations on staff; expect results to take weeks or monthsDo you create opportunities for team innovation? Do you help ideas become reality?

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
—Steve Jobs