Monday, October 10, 2011

Leadership Tips on Creating Change and Innovation

A good leader inspires people to achieve God given visions. Elmer Towns comments on visionary leadership and says, "Problems arise for leaders, however, because they are imperfect, and exercise imperfect communication to followers who have imperfect powers of observation; thus arriving at imperfect interpretation and imperfect understanding of the task at hand. When an imperfect relationship exists between leaders and followers, the less than perfect situation creates a barrier to change or innovation." (the Role of Innovation in Leadership - Elmer Towns).

At times leaders are misinterpreted, whether that be something that is communicated verbally, or just a misinterpretation of a leader's body language. These can create barriers to effective visionary leadership. Elmer Towns offers some basic presuppositions leaders should grasp when attempting change or innovation.

1. Change or innovation usually begins with the leader. A leader must first be willing to change. I think broadly of leaders being not only willing to change their organizational output, but be willing to change and grow personally (morality, integrity, etc.)

2. Followers must be prepared to change. I have heard of some that say a leader needs to be able to create urgency for change. Some even go so far as to say we should change things around all the time, just to stay in a state of changing. My philosophy is not to change for change sake, but to help people be aware that when change comes along it will be worthwhile!

3. A leader must know what to change. This requires wisdom and discernment and understanding of the group you are leading, what you are aiming to achieve and a decent grasp of the organization of which you are part. They say, "Methods are many, principles are few. Methods can change, but principles never do." It's really that discussion about orthodox belief and methodology. Within the Christian church for example, beliefs stay the same, but methods that are used to help people engage with those beliefs change.

4. A leader must communicate the value of the change/innovation. If the perceived value of the change is less than the perceived value of the way things are, then you have a change issue. All the best trying to inspire followers to change when they believe they are better off the way things are. A leader must communicate, communicate, communicate the great value of the changes. Promote the vision. Inspire the listeners. Let people know things will be better off after the new changes than right now.

5. Celebrate the wins along the way. Discuss the progress. Keep people informed. Through the upheaval of change and innovation there needs to be time to celebrate how far you've come. Celebrate the progress. Continue to show people as you reflect on your progress, that these changes are worth their salt!

God bless you as you strive to lead well, and to manage the change process and the inevitable transitions involved. I hope these leadership tips on the change process have been helpful!

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