Developing superior skills of innovation is crucial for today’s leaders, requiring imagination and creativity to piece together the big picture. New ideas are constantly needed to respond to the global business economy. To truly be innovative, the brain must be receptive to new thoughts, and not merely recycle something that worked yesterday or last year.
There isn’t much room for creative and innovative thinking between endless meetings, conference calls, and spreadsheets. The world is so busy trying to stay ahead that we have lost the art and confidence of having new thoughts.
“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
It is so easy to slip into the comfort of routine. The brain cruises by on autopilot, time passes, and each day is completed without much thought. Humans find comfort in such routine. But, it comes at a price. Routine doesn’t exercise the brain or allow for new, innovative ideas. Fortunately, innovation can be strengthened by increasing imagination, drive, curiosity and attitude.
- Imagination. What kind of world would this be without imagination? Reading popular science fiction may seem exactly that - a fun, make-believe story. But science does draw inspiration from fantasy, and science fiction forces people to question the benefits and relevance of current and future innovations and technologies.1 Imagining the impossible is the first step to creating the possible.
- Drive. The drive to step in and take control of a situation tests the mettle of even seasoned leaders. In disaster situations, leaders have a valuable skill set, and they often have a chain of command in place. With a little innovation, leaders can contribute life-saving ideas and resources to catastrophic situations.
- Curiosity. Curiosity comes about when we have a gap between what we know and what we don’t know. Being curious triggers dopamine production in the limbic parts of the brain, which is where the brain handles emotions and memories. Dopamine is a “reward” neurotransmitter that helps the brain make new discoveries and solve problems, and it can help us be curious without worrying about the unknown.
- Attitude. Having a ho-hum or “good enough” attitude is detrimental to any office environment, and it’s especially obvious during social interactions. Applying neuroscience to your leadership style can increase social intelligence. Good leaders understand that social situations are complicated, and being able to perceive these situations will allow you to be in control of dynamic social domains.2
CREATE A “MAKE IT HAPPEN” CULTURE IN THE OFFICE
Businesses with high levels of innovation can expect a progressive environment with outside the box thinking. Teams can work to find solutions faster, and be proactive for future problems. Conversely, conservatism, stagnation and a negative environment are more likely for organisations with low levels of innovation.
Leaders who cultivate the conditions for learning, embrace diversity, and reward the natural inquisitiveness of their teams will give innovation the opportunity to flourish. Knowledge should flow across borders, and businesses can create environments that teach workers about innovation and how the brain comes up with new ideas.
1.https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151209-star-wars-science-movie-film/ Menadue, C.B.; Cheer, K.D. (2017). Human Culture and Science Fiction: A review of the Literature, 1980-2016. SAGE Open 7 (3), 2158244017723690."https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244017723690" https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244017723690
2.Zaccaro, S. J. (2002). Organizational leadership and social intelligence. In R. E. Riggio, S. E. Murphy, F. J. Pirozzolo (Eds.), LEA's organization and management series. Multiple intelligences and leadership (pp. 29-54). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.