Innovation from a Human-centric Leadership Perspective

Innovation. The first commandment of business today: innovate or disappear.

Innovation powers the economy. The BCG Most Innovative Companies survey found the 50 most innovative companies of 2020 outperformed the index by 17%.

Leaders name it as a top need within their organizations. The BCG survey reported 75% of companies identified innovation as a top 3 priority. That was 10% jump, the biggest increase in the 15 years of the survey.

But BCG also found less than half the companies backed up their aspirations with investing in innovation. Even among these committed innovators, there’s was a big readiness gap.

For most the how of innovation is still a mystery.

There are 2 important pieces around innovation not talked about much.

The first is around hiring.

Most organizations focus on fit: finding people who are like those already in the organization.

That’s a problem for diversity, which is a problem for innovation.
Leaders are worried about hiring misfits. But misfits aren’t a bad thing, necessarily.

Misfits shake things up. If you want innovation, you want people who think slightly differently than those around them. They bring diverse perspectives to the table.

The second issue is around leading and managing people. Truthfully, each of us has a bit of misfit. We want to help people thrive as misfits instead of forcing them into a corporate round hole.

That means helping them embrace their weird and successfully navigate the workplace.

People are receiving the opposite message of embrace your weird in the workplace. Ideas like the parts of your personality that seem out of sync or weird are weaknesses you need to overcome.

But that logic is out-of-date. Your ‘weird’, misfit parts are generally where your greatest gifts lie.

Companies need people who bring unique perspectives – passionate and original thinkers. Disruptors.

And those people need a safe place to land. A place where they can thrive and express the best of themselves.

That’s where elements like people-centered leadership and psychological safety come in.

They’re about changing the way we manage people. Supporting people to become their best.

After all, everyone knows what not belonging feels like. Everyone has times when they feel emotionally clumsy, anxious, awkward. The more you feel a misfit the more uncomfortable you feel in your surroundings – and the less well you perform.

We can flip that. The cutting edge of human-centric leadership and psychological safety is about changing the way we interact with ourselves and others.

More self-trust. More fun. More inspiration. More becoming the best you can be.

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