8 characterstics of adaptive, innovative leaders

by | May 23, 2017 | Vibrant Faith

Leading well now and into the future requires an “innovator’s mindset” that leads to the creation of new and better ideas. Listed below are eight characteristics that support a mindset of ongoing reflection, renewal and innovation.
  1. Empathetic – To create new and better ways of doing things, we need to first understand who we are creating them for. As leaders, we need to align ourselves with God’s intentions and frequently ask, “what is best for the people we seek to serve?” Adaptive leaders must put themselves in other people’s shoes as they explore betters ways to be on mission.
  2. Problem Finders – All innovation starts from a question not an answer. What are the problems we seek to solve and why does it matter to people?
  3. Risk-Takers – Our current “best-practices” can become enemies of innovation. Adaptive leaders are willing to move beyond “tried-and-true” approaches and go off the beaten path.
  4. Networked – If “chance favours the connected mind” then innovation does not happen in isolation. If isolation is the enemy of innovation, then adaptive leaders create networks to learn from others and create new and powerful ideas.
  5. Curious – Adaptive leaders keep a notebook or use their mobile device to record ideas or thoughts around them and link them to their own ideas. They look to solutions beyond their ministry areas and tap into the ideas from various settings and industries. Recognizing that wisdom is all around us, they actively look for it.
  6. Creators & Experimenters – Thomas Edison reminds us that innovation is a combination of ideas and hard work. Conversation is crucial to the process of innovation, but without action, ideas simply fade away and/or die.  Creating experiments and testing assumptions are essential elements of the innovation process.
  7. Persistent – Things do not always work on the first try, so what are the tweaks or revamping that is needed? To simply try something and give up as soon as it fails never leads to innovation, only a definitive end. Adaptive leaders use learning from their successes and failures to turn good ideas into great ones.
  8. Reflective – What worked? What didn’t? What could we do next time? If we started again, what would we do differently? What can we build upon? Educator John Dewey reminds us that “we do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” Reflection is where deep learning happens.
Which of these characteristics do you exhibit?  How might you build upon them?  Which characteristics need further attention? What might be your next step in growing as an innovative leader?

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