Notes on Leadership, Development & Innovation

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While the impact is usually a word heard in startup circles, it has begun to seep into the world of established business as well. So how do you inspire, create, manage and sustain impact? How do you disrupt the way things are done? Take industries out of their comfort zones and jolt large organizations into remembering their roots as smaller, more agile businesses with more dreams than the bureaucracy in their resume?

The Startup World Has Mobilized

With the excitement that is the essence of startup culture, the impact is now being taken to a whole new level. Startups have taken on the task of making real change in the worldin masse by tackling humanity’s great challenges. Companies like AirbnbBlaBlaCarBrightbytes and Heia Heia are all out there to make a difference, to impact the lives of their customers, the workplace and the world.

This focus on impact is largely being driven by two fairly mundane things; demand and supply. The demand for new solutions is growing – we are hungry for better, smarter solutions to the problems of humanity.

Access to education, growing and ageing populations, health care and the use of resources are global, complex problems that don’t just have one right answer. Complex problems require complex solutions, as Fast Company said, Businesses often try to remove complexity when actually it’s more, not less, complexity that will create the most appropriate solution.

I know you’ve been hearing it and have heard it said a million times but I’m going to say it once more. It’s more important than ever to have work that is meaningful. Gone are the days when you went from graduating to a secure job to a comfortable retirement.

Today’s unpredictable job market has created an agile workforce – it isn’t enough to be a single function employee anymore. Since I can remember I’ve always been told I’m not enough as I am because there are a thousand more like me out there; I must grow my skill set and be good at what I do and great in how I do it. To be really good at what I do, I need to be passionate about it and I will only be passionate about something that I care about, something that has meaning.

Problems Are Opportunities to Provide Solutions

As the Dalai Lama put it; “Companies are living, complex organisms and not profit machines. The profit should therefore not be the object of a company, but rather a result of good work”.

As value surveys have shown young people want their own values to align with those of the companies they work in. Ken Blanchard teaches us that accomplishing worthwhile goals while taking into considerations and concerns of others is the mark of leadership at a higher level. Making money in itself is not a worthwhile goal; it is the applause you get for taking care of your customers, treating your people well and being a good citizen.

To Nurture Leadership Is To Nurture Success

It is imperative for companies to have a culture that nurtures people’s leadership skills because leadership exists at all levels in a company. The more leaders there are throughout an organization, the more likely it is to succeed. Functional leadership develops daily and every day is an opportunity to create better leadership within your organization.

Good leadership creates momentum that facilitates change that isn’t possible on its own. Momentum, in turn, drives change and change is what inspires innovation. Building an organization that actively promotes communication and collaboration on both strategic and operational levels promotes trust and collaboration – both which are essential for innovation.

Because it is not the size of the problem, but the degree of momentum that matters according to John C. Maxwell, we should actively work towards having great leadership in our organizations.

For it is that leadership that will generate the momentum we need to succeed in, as Fast Company puts it; an age of accelerating complexity, a world where change is exponentially increasing in speed, the degree of surprise and amount of possible outcomes. This means that our world is much less predictable and requires a completely different mentality and approach to dealing with emerging issues and events

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