Transformational Leadership Strategies – 5 Steps to Breaking Down Innovation Barriers

Very few leaders today solicit ideas outside their peer group, costing them time, money and competitive advantage everyday. The problem is that by not reaching out to employees and incorporating their feedback, many of today's leaders are stifling creativity and actually hindering their company's success. By not listening to different perspectives and developing new ways of thinking, they have actually created barriers to becoming a more efficient and innovative organization. Worse yet, employees do not feel valued by their company, which decreases general productivity, loyalty and overall teamwork.

How can you get your people back?

Start breaking down the barriers by asking yourself these questions:

Question 1: Is It Motivation or Ability ?

If your employees are not doing their job well, there are only two explanations, either they can not, or they will not. If they can do the job, the challenge is motivational. If they can not, the challenge is lack of ability or skills.

Question 2: Do Your Employees Own It ?

When people contribute ideas, time, effort, sweat and muscle towards a project, they feel like part of the solution. They feel valued. They feel worthwhile. They want to own it, and take pride in their work. They have given part of themselves and are now part of the answer. The quickest way to gain buy-in for any endeavor is to ask for people's advice, expertise, ideas or just their opinion. This will also build trust for future projects, as well as foster a culture of teamwork. People that are 'in the loop' feel energized and part of the organization.

TIP: Getting employees to buy into a system, project, idea, culture and perhaps, their future, is something that can be started late in the game, but as with everything, is easier and better when you do it up front. People begin to develop strong opinions and a work ethic around a new position within the first 90 days. If their experience is negative, gaining their trust back will be very difficult, but it is possible.

Question 3: Do They Have the Right Tools?

Let employees run with ideas and give them permission to fail. Give them the power to stop production or delivery of products if quality is not up to standard. What do they need to be successful and take your company to the next level? Why do not they have these tools? Are you losing money because of this? Your employees are your best asset. Make sure they have what they need to succeed and you will be successful together.

Question 4: Does Department V Know About Department K?

When people understand how the different parts of a company work, not just the small part they work for, they are in a better position to generate cross-departmental ideas and suggestions that may be locked up otherwise. Everyone has expertise and insight into areas they may not encounter everyday, and spreading this knowledge across your organization will improve the strength of the company, its competitive advantage and of course, its future.

Question 5: Did You Forget About You ?

People are looking to you for leadership and example. If you ignore them in the hallway, you will have an impact. If you solicit and value their suggestions on how to improve a business process, customer experience or day-to-day activities, you will have an impact. If you do nothing, you will have an impact!

Smart leaders know that employees will do what's right when they are able to take responsibility for their actions, and own it. The people who know best how the job should be done, are the ones doing it.

Are you getting in the way of your company's success?