5 Habits of Innovative Business Leaders

By: Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO, The NIIC

Were you among the 41 percent of Americans who started the year with a resolution or two? Sadly, we are nearing the point in the year when most have abandoned them for various reasons; however, I am not writing to be critical of your honorable intentions. Instead, I am inviting you to challenge yourself by committing to and implementing lasting change that can have favorable results for your business and on you. Consider adopting these 5 habits of innovative business leaders in 2017!

  1. Embrace Level 5 leadership: You’ve likely heard of emotional intelligence and its application to the workplace. Leaders with high EQs know how to keep their egos at bay. An innovative leader is open to hearing ideas that might challenge their beliefs or the status quo, and in the process improve or strengthen the idea. I just completed a 7 day Global Leadership Summit (GLS) Growth Track daily video on EQ. A major a-ha for me was the two skills most difficult to master – self-awareness (only 36% of leaders can/are able to accurately identify their emotions at the moment) and their social awareness (too inwardly focused and not outwardly focused in their interactions with other people). Both are essential skills to the notion of Level 5 leaders – simultaneously embracing Humility + Will.
  2. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. What if Henry Ford had given up after the first prototype? Innovators dust themselves off and see failures as temporary hurdles. Distinguish between activities and results. My first boss told me, “results, not effort, get rewarded.” Be vigilant in keeping score but don’t be confused by being busy on your to-do list at the expense of getting things done.
  3. Listen more, talk less. When someone is speaking, are you truly listening or busy formulating your response? We are all guilty of the latter, from time to time. Good listeners are fully present and know how to make others feel validated and heard. This is critical to team building and personal trustworthiness. Be present and engaged in your relationships with others. This is a key area for my 2017 habit development – improvement of my social awareness and having an intentional and outward people focus!
  4. Stay hungry–for information and meaning. Innovators are continuous learners. They are often voracious readers and jump at the opportunity to attend a workshop or professional development seminar. If you could only read one business book in your lifetime, the one you should read is Good to Great. Get in the groove – establish some discipline and rhythm in your daily active learning.
  5. Connect the dots–it’s all about the business model. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have multiple and diverse streams of income. Innovators tend to get bored easily, which is why giving yourself some variety in creative pursuits is good for your headspace. Plus, it expands your knowledge base and overall business savvy.

Which of these habits are you willing to incorporate into your daily routine? If you have already embraced one or several, how has it served you and your business?


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