Pick and Choose
I have paid close attention to various styles of innovative leadership, and if I was asked to name the top five innovative leadership models of this generation, I would certainly have Apple and Google as my top two. Both are a big part of my everyday life and work, and I am sure you would agree.
One of Google’s tenets of innovation is that data is apolitical. They pay close and intense attention to what their customers express that they need and then work very quickly and precisely to create what customers want.
The late Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple took a quite different leadership tack than Google when it comes to innovative leadership. Apple, as a result, seems to envision what the future is and develop products that customers want but just didn’t know it.
Apple thinks innovatively for its customers about what would make life easier, more fun, better connected, more creative, a better experience – about what is necessary for their future. Apple leads the industry and leads its tribe of customers who rely on them to do so.
Choose a Ministry Leadership Style Well
As a church leader, which would be your style? To have an understanding of your innovative leadership style is essential to understanding your future.
If your style is more like Google’s, surveying your community on a regular basis to see what they would like and working quickly to give it to them–that would be a customer-centric style that is built upon the assumption that customers understand their needs better than you do.
If you rely more on your organization’s knowledge and growth as the expert and make changes and innovations in your work based on your vision of what is necessary for your people, then you would be a more visionary leader like Steve Jobs in foreseeing what the future requires today. This style believes that opinions and taste are important, but they do not accurately suggest future direction like you, the expert observer and analyzer, can.
Is one better than the other? Yes, and no. What is important is to be aware of both and not become trapped in only developing one approach and one style of innovative leadership. Google has a close intimate relationship with its customers that helps them stay relevant and even indispensable in their lives. Google earns trust with its customers because they act on customer need quickly and expertly. Google would not be successful if they listened to customers and didn’t act adeptly and quickly.
Apple creates the future by determining what must be next based on what we see and have at our disposal now—Mobility is the future. Aesthetics are delightful. Content must be abundant. Knowing all those things, what device makes sense? Apple doesn’t wait to see what other people are going to do and try to play catch-up. Apple defines and sets new standards for others to follow.
Which route is your leadership taking? Are you the innovative leader organizing today based on what the future is telling us? Or, are you gathering data to use to innovate and are you committed to acting – launching big and early and iterating often?
Choose Before You Lose
I think it is necessary to be intentional about innovation, with one or the other strategy because choosing to wait and see what develops, waiting to see what everybody else is going to do is not a winning strategy. Your constituency is counting on you to craft the experiences they need now to be prepared for the future. Envision it like Apple does and align to it or scan all the data including listening closely to customers and create new all the time, staying in close sync with today, knowing the future is evolving.
Either way, innovation is how we remain relevant, even indispensable, to our people, job, or organization. Innovation is all about creating value today and in the future. Innovation is about leading.
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