How to nurture the five traits that set innovative leaders apart

Startup founders might want to refer to XBInsight’s latest survey to find out how they can cultivate their ability to disrupt

How to nurture the five traits that set innovative leaders apart

British businesses are no strangers to shaking up the status quo – just look at entrepreneurs like Love Home Swap’s Debbie Wosskow, Her’s Robyn Exton and Blaze’s Emily Brooke. And now it seems that XBInsight, the talent assessment company, has developed a roadmap for how to improve the innovative prowess of Britain’s leaders even further.

Having collected data on nearly 5,000 leaders across a wide range of industries, XBInsight has identified the five characteristics innovative leaders share: an ability to manage risk, demonstrate curiosity, lead courageously, seize opportunities and maintain a strategic business perspective. Writing in the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, Katherine Graham-Leviss, the founder and president of XBInsight, said: “The CEOs who are most likely to lead innovation are [driven], high-impact individuals, who aren’t afraid to be assertive, independent and, above all, curious.”

One piece of advice to cultivate better risk management skills is to consider setting a time limit for evaluating the potential risks of a new plan so they’re not overthinking things. “If you can live with the consequences of a decision, then stop analysing and go ahead and make the decision,” said Graham-Leviss.

And while many entrepreneurs are usually curious by default, Graham-Leviss urged leaders to pinpoint where they may have gaps in their knowledge and create a learning-friendly environment. “Make time for developmental activities, such as taking classes and participating in workshops,” she said.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Space X and Tesla, is perhaps one of the world’s bravest and most innovative leaders. From manufacturing electronic cars to gearing up for interplanetary exploration, he’s constantly demonstrating bravery. To cultivate their courage, fellow leaders should be prepared to voice their opinions and respond to criticism with assertiveness rather than aggression. “The trick to being assertive is to share your views, but not to force them,” said Graham-Leviss.

Innovative CEOs were also deemed to be better than average when it comes to seizing opportunities. Looking back on missed opportunities from the past can help prevent leaders from making the same mistake again.

Finally, the study found that disruptive leaders were able to demonstrate a keen understanding of industry trends and the implications for their organization. To stay at the cutting edge, don’t just participate in learning activities but actively create them too.

With 2017 around the corner, we’re betting that strengthening these traits will be at the top of many entrepreneurs’ list of New Year’s resolutions.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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