This is the sixth of seven posts on AchieveGlobal's international study of leadership today, "Developing the 21st-Century Leader." Be sure to read the complete report.
"Innovate or die" is no longer a cliché. That phrase now describes the real choice many organizations face in the current economy: rethink themselves from strategy to products to daily operation - or risk oblivion.
AchieveGlobal's 2009 international study identified six "zones of 21st-century leadership" - Reflection, Society, Diversity, Ingenuity, People, and Business. Ingenuity, in particular, has taken on new meaning and new urgency. Today, offering and executing good ideas is not enough. Leaders must help others do the same by creating a culture in which innovation can thrive. To respond to new threats and opportunities, leaders must question everything, right down to received wisdom at the heart of their business.
Innovation at one time was a little-used skill at the bottom a leader's tool box, fished out for incremental improvements here or there. Today, leaders need sharp new tools and the requisite skills to create a true culture of innovation: curious, challenging, collaborative, confidence-building, and customer-close. Leaders strong in the zone of Ingenuity help their teams - even their organizations - to create a motivating shared vision of future success.
What defines Ingenuity in the 21st-century leader? Maybe exactly what defined it in that 16th-century sculptor, Michelangelo, who into his 80s, laboring over his unfinished "Bound Slave," could say, "I am still learning."
Craig Perrin is Director of Solution Development at AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida