Innovation needs to be fostered within a culture that is open to change and free from restricting attitudes and behaviors (Davila et al., 2013). So much of this culture development relies on the leadership approach of those with the power to make change. Change is the province of leaders (Kouzes and Posner, 2012), and how they approach change will determine whether or not the culture is open to change. For a leader with a “great man” approach that barks orders, expects people to fall in line, and bristles up when challenged (Northouse, 2013), the organizational culture will be reluctant to change and fearful of innovation. For the leader that operates from a servant mentality, seeking out input, embracing ideas from others, and quick to admit mistakes (Northouse, 2013), the culture is excited at the prospect of change because they trust the leader has the well-being of others in mind.
As a leader, I have learned there are challenging elements of my personality that are not conducive to change and innovation. First and foremost is my affinity for order and process. My mind spends a great deal of time eliminating uncertainty and question marks because I believe when uncertainty is eliminated, safety and security will abound. What I have learned I need to do is not eliminate uncertainty, because that is impossible, but I need to learn to be flexible, exploratory, open, and quick to embrace change while still promoting safety and security. I must help followers understand that change does not create uncertainty, but a lack of preparedness and faith create uncertainty. If we know we can navigate any challenge that comes our way, and have faith that God has our well-being in mind, then our anchors are set and we are ready to ebb and flow with the storms of life.
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.