1. Hey Pal,

    One of the things that I think needs to be added to your list is some kind of statement that recognizes that creating new and better while trapped within traditional systems sometimes requires creating space or providing freedom/protection from the demands of the system — which aren’t always supportive of innovation.

    Here’s an example: One of the best leaders that I ever worked for would explicitly tell us which district initiatives that we had to give our best efforts to and which we could gloss over and finish without real thought.

    His goal was to create time for us to innovate. While he couldn’t give us permission to completely ignore district initiatives, he could help us figure out which were priorities and which were not.

    So I guess that innovative leaders need to serve as filters for their teachers, helping to identify places where time and energy can be saved by focusing on the right things instead of everything.

    Not sure how to word this, but innovation is often stifled simply because we are buried in work that other people want us to pull off.

    Does this make sense?

    • George

      It makes a lot of sense…the idea of being the “filter” is extremely helpful. As always, thanks for your input.

  2. Linda

    Bill, I think you’re spot on! Being innovative requires support on many levels. Giving teachers permission to prioritize empowers them! I enjoy guiding my teachers through various initiatives and plans and watching them grow in their leadership as they collaborate to make these ideas work for the students and the school.

  3. Mike Ringen

    I especially appreciate the combination of #2 Problem-Solvers and #6 Creative. To not only provide opportunities for these but also to provide training and guidance that will produce actual creative problem-solving is an essential component of a leader. Giving people the tools to think “outside the box” is the next step following giving them the ok to do so. Our consulting business puts a priority on creativity and innovation on problem-solving, so I am excited to having found this information from you that supports what we are doing.

  4. Ahmed

    Genuinely appreciate and can relate to this article completely & with regards to the diagram at the end, all I can say is I wish I saw it sooner.

    The mindset of attempting to do something new and better with an innovative approach is always going to be something that is recognized with stigma in the environment and so with this article, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be motivated in order to stand up and illuminate through personal qualities.

    I have to reiterate my genuine appreciation for this piece on a personal note and could not thank you enough.

  5. George, don’t feel bad but your definition of leadership is a statement of a goal of leadership not what it is. Don’t feel bad because most of the other definitions suffer the same problem and even those considered great gurus don’t know what leadership is.

    The reason is that the leadership industry has spent its time studying leaders and that is a huge error. Would a budding car mechanic study what other mechanics do or would they study the cars expected to be maintained and repaired. The answer is obvious and so should it be for leadership.

    This is also the reason why leadership development has the dismal record of having little or no positive long term effect. Some would say the effect has been negative. It is also the same reason why engagement scores measured for the past 15 years by Gallup have not improved and remain at about 70% disengaged or actively disengaged, a horrible record.

    As a manager of people, I made the mistake of following the advice of the leadership industry for my first 12 years and then slowly shifted to listening to my people so as to understand them and what they needed to unleash their full potential. Under my changed leadership their performance rose over 300% per person. And they taught me what leadership is and why they react the way they do to what management does and does not do.

    From what people follow, leadership is simply the transmission of value standards by what management does and does not do. These value standards are then used by followers as how to do their work and treat their customers, each other, and their bosses: how industriously, openly, knowledgeably, honestly, respectfully, courteously, perseveringly, etcetera, etcetera.

    Hope that helps. Best regards, Ben

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