Encouraging innovation and creativity positions organisations well to improve competitiveness, streamline operations and drive high performance of the organisation. To do this, it’s essential we unleash the collective wisdom of a team into divergent thinking and collaboration to bring entrepreneurially sound decisions to the marketplace.
Despite a leader’s understanding of the need to innovate and be agile, internal conversations that challenge the status quo can be tricky, bringing with it perceptions of disloyalty, defiance, and rebellion.
For divergent thinking to happen within a group of people, the manager and leader must bring a growth mindset. This kind of mindset and thinking results in the development of trust, facilitates collaborative outcomes and actively encourages divergent thinking.
There are four elements leaders must foster to create a culture that encourages innovation:
1. Being prepared to challenge and be challenged
Challenging conversations are pivotal for organisations and leaders who seek innovation because they question existing behaviours and habits, disrupt current thinking, seek improvements, and encourage the sharing and receiving of feedback. Leaders must broaden their capability to both be challenged and initiate challenging conversations to cultivate innovation.
2. Building trust
When trust is high, we share openly within our conversations – we feel “safe” enough to reveal what we’re thinking, honestly and authentically. Building this kind of trust takes courage as it means revealing things that can make us feel vulnerable. There is value, however, because when there is trust, courage and vulnerability then you speed up innovation and creativity.
3. Unleashing courage to share your thoughts and feelings
For people to be courageous they need to transcend their fears which means first identifying them and then determining ways to walk into and through them. Mark Twain says it best: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
4. Igniting and resolving conflict constructively
Through our natural course of living, we make choices and decisions; and because of these we experience differences of opinion, priorities, needs and expectations with other people. These differences ARE conflict, and we all need to expect conflict will happen, build emotional resilience to handle it and then embrace it in order to resolve it constructively, because it is a remarkable business performance tool.
Innovation is only possible when leaders and managers encourage everyone to activate their courage and share their divergent thinking. Such action requires high levels of trust and an awareness of building trust and learning how to constructively encourage people to share their divergent thinking is the business reality of what it takes to have the courage to transform.
Here’s what other participants have said:
“Great! Well-presented and great content. easy to listen to and gather information from the presentation.”
“An interactive and engaging session – I like the breakout sessions in pairs.”
“It was more interactive than i thought it would be. It has made me change my thoughts on what constitutes “conflict.”