Making change is central to who leaders are. Leaders get people moving by energizing them, mobilizing them, and taking them places they have never been (Kouzes and Posner, 2012). It is change that is the province of leaders and where they feel alive and effective (Kouzes and Posner, 2012). Leaders should be seeking opportunities to innovate, whether it is through incremental, semi-radical, or even radical innovations (Davila et al., 2012), there should be a level of change leaders are seeking to achieve on a regular basis.
A common mistake leaders make when it comes to innovation is responding at an inappropriate level to necessary innovation. Either a radical innovation is needed, but an incremental decision is made, or an incremental innovation is needed but the leader decides to make a complete overhaul (Davila et al., 2012). In other cases, a semi-radical innovation is needed by changing the business model, but a technological change is made, or vice versa (Davila, et al., 2012). Leaders need to become more adept at recognizing the proper innovation needed for the moment, and often times it is those the leader is surrounded with that can create clarity.
For followers, how you respond to leaders in the midst of innovation is all dependent on the leader you have chosen to follow. If the leader is a transactional leader, subscribes to the ‘great man’ theory, or is a passive leader then there is little hope your influence is going to impact the leader’s reactions to innovation (Northouse, 2012). It may be time to follow a better leader. If you have a transformational, servant, or authentic leader you are following, there should be channels set up to influence innovation reactions to match what is needed. My advice from experience is, be constructive when speaking into such topics as a reminder of your support.
Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: how to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (Updated ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.