How Innovative Leaders Don’t Always Need to Hold Senior Positions

It is common for people to assume that only top leaders of the company can drive innovation. Being a manager, you can come up with pioneering ideas. In this Harvard Business Review article, Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville explain how innovative leaders can be from lower positions.

When Innovative Leaders Are Not from Senior Management

In HBR Leader’s Handbook, the authors captured three integral ways to become innovative leaders despite holding a lower rank. These following tips will help in your professional growth significantly:

  • Participate in Problem-solving Activities: Though senior leaders must provide solutions, they are farthest from the problems. So, partaking in problem-solving sessions to improve your visionary skills. Sam Palmisano engaged IBM employees and stakeholders in 2003 in brainstorming sessions called ‘idea jam’. World Bank President James Wolfensohn wanted to help reconstruct the country ravaged by WWII. He had meetings with everyone, irrespective of hierarchy. The final vision was an amalgamation of all ideas together that served the company’s vision.
  • Make Your Team Align with Company Vision: Senior management would want team leaders to ensure team activities align with the company vision. Though you might be just the messenger of the vision, know if any other department’s performance is related to your team’s. Also, confirm that you have got the idea right with the senior leaders regularly.
  • Manage Your Vision Up: Leaders lower in the corporate hierarchy can come up with brilliant ideas. Children’s Media SVP Lesli Rotenberg convinced PBS board members to launch a channel dedicated to kids. United Way transformed from a corporate fundraising firm to a non-profit organization because it maximized on local entrepreneurial discoveries. Majority of the companies leave the vision-thinking to senior management, but today’s world provokes more innovation. Top executives might reconsider your ideas and experiences if those display exponential growth potential for the company. McKinsey Managing Director Dominic Barton realized in 2009 that bottom-up leaders can transform the company. Those executives later held positions of senior management, eventually.

Improve Your Visionary Skills:

  • Understand what a vision is and how it is different from company mission, strategy, and values. Visions change often, unlike mission.
  • Work with other leaders in making the vision come true. Explain to your team what it all means.
  • Involve other departments in the vision-building effort. A strong vision needs continuous collaboration.
  • Not one of the primary visionaries? Not to worry. Watch and learn until you get one on your own.

To view the original article in full, visit the following link: https://hbr.org/2019/04/you-dont-have-to-be-ceo-to-be-a-visionary-leader

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