Management vs Innovation: Take Your Pick

I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

On Innovation

Let’s look at innovation. It’s uncertain, difficult to control, diverts staff from tasks and can be expensive and is the antithesis of what tends to drive managers. Don’t get me wrong I understand organisations can’t deliver on their existing commitments without strong and clear management.

However, experience shows us that without new ideas, products, or services companies soon become irrelevant as the market and society marches on.

Remaining Relevant

Consider for a moment if you will some of the big name companies who dominated the end of the 20th Century and are no longer with us. Innovation comes in many guises and although physical inventions tend to dominate our impression of what innovation consists some of the most important innovations are in the way we do things not just the products we make.

Whist you might be sleepwalking to perfecting your management system others are wide-awake innovating – check out The Idea Connection to see what is happening out there.

Even though every leader and every company knows they must keep moving forward and support innovation even the best can end up doing a poor job of supporting it. We blame “bad luck”, ”the R&D team wasn’t strong enough” or even “government intervention”.

Remaining In Control

However, we should look closer to home for addressable levers we can control directly. Often it’s the very managerial culture we have created which interferes with innovation the most. When management system are perfect companies enlarge but when they companies innovate they grow, adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. The effect is continued resilience and profitability in a volatile world..

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~Peter Drucker

Essentially management is all about maintaining the status quo by enforcing budget control, time efficiency and certainty. They want immediate quantifiable results they can present to the board.


This behaviour is encouraged by creating limited SMART objectives rewarded by incentives. When you throw into the mix the uncertainty of a creative process which needs time and money, managers start to sweat and find ways to prevent their reports from contributing; unless it’s in their spare time. Managers will say they believe in and want innovation, but their immediate concerns prevent them backing it up with concrete resources.

As shown by Johan Fuller and his University of Innsbruck team, a major inhibitor of innovation comes from a battle between motivational rewards and barriers arising from fear of exposure and a negative benefit-effort trade-off. The balance of this equilibrium flexes our intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to innovate or to play safe. Identifying which levers stimulate innovation and which stifle it are key to growth.

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” ~Bill Gates

Effective Innovative Teams

Effective innovative teams draw their members from multiple disciplines and company sectors. When they join they take of their “management hats” and are invited to contribute based on their personal expertise, knowhow and networks. Why not create company “hacker spaces”  where playing to discover may create your next massive product or service? Even if it doesn’t the mutual trust generated will be worth the effort.

To successfully engage managers in the innovation process, concrete value-based objectives and clear yet flexible outcomes must be identified. Finite affordable resources must be allocated and an agreed time-frame adhered to. Most of all, you have to be seen to value the Innovation Team. It’s their effort which needs rewarding not just the wins. For every ten ideas maybe one makes money. It does not mean the effort invested in the other nine was wasted (see The Edison Principle).

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” ~Milan Kundera

As Dale Dougherty says in his TED talk, ”Makers are in control” I would add a rider that, “Users are under control.” Do you want your company to be in control or used?

Your Actions Today

  • Were you involved directly today in your organisation’s innovative process?
  • How much resource and time have you given the innovation team?
  • Did you overtly value and affirm effort as well as wins?
  • Talk to your managers and try to sense their attitude to innovation and the pressures placed on them to resist it.
  • Reflect on your personal relationship with risk and innovation.

Recommended reading

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review) – Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble

Gary Coulton is the author of the upcoming book “Your personal leadership book of days – avoid cookie cutter solutions by using your Adaptive Intelligence”. Get your free mini-version at HERE.


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Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Winning and Losing

Winning and Losing

There are many components to classical effective leadership. But today I want to discuss just a single critical part of effective leadership through the sharing two stories with you.

One: I got a funny comment of one of my blog posts this week. After reading one of my articles discussing one of the areas where I struggle as a leader, the commenter said this:

Gutsy post, it must take a lot of courage to be that open about your faults. I would never do that as a consultant.”

Two: I published a post on LinkedIn this week that after two days had received over 13,000 views. By far this has been my post popular article of all time and the only post I’ve written that has ever gone “viral.” I felt like a semi-celebrity as the LinkedIn number of shares crossed 700…800…900 and up.

My Million Dollar Question

As these situations were simultaneously circulating around me, I couldn’t help but ask myself the million dollar question:

“Am I a failure as a writer because of all the times my posts have just sat there and done nothing? Or am I a success because of this most recent mind-blowing success?”

On one hand, people didn’t like my writing style, while on the other hand people did.

What was I to think? Was a good writer or not?

Your Emotional Connections

The reason why I share these two stories is because I want to spend a few minutes talking about why it is so important as a leader to not get emotionally attached to the outcomes of our efforts.

I once heard an expression at a conference one time that sums up how to do this:

“Don’t take anything personally – the good or the bad”

I thought it was interesting. The speaker was trying to explain that if we interpret our successes to mean that “Yay, I’m great, they like me!” then we are equally as likely to internalize the negative feedback that comes at us when things aren’t going so well.

He painted a picture of us being on a teeter-totter where our emotional health and was totally dependent on the results we were achieving (or not achieving).

  • Feedback is good? We’re happy.
  • Feedback is less than great? We’re depressed because we obviously suck.

Are either of those assumptions true? No. Am I a failure because some people don’t like my material? No. Am I a success because I hit a home-run? No. The truth is we are not our losses or our victories – we are all a big combination of ups and downs and all incredibly valuable just as we are.

Keeping On Track

How then do we know if we’re on the right track if we’re not using our outside results as our primary “success” gauge? Three things I ask myself when facing self-worth questions:

  1. Am I being obedient to what I feel God is calling me to do? Really His opinion is the only one that matters to me.
  2. What do I think? Personally I felt great about the articles I had written and didn’t base my work satisfaction on something I had little to no control over (in this case the feedback to each article). I had done my best and for me, that was enough.
  3. Does my inner circle think I’m on the right track? We each have a few people in our lives that know us well and will hold us accountable to becoming our best selves. Listen to them for feedback if you’re feeling unsure.

In closing I write this as a reminder to those of us who get a huge high from a victory yet also reel just as much from a supposed loss.

Don’t identify either way:

  • Don’t deflate when you lose.
  • Don’t get puffed-up when you win.

The truth is that you’re amazing just the way you are: We are all a work in progress.

Breath when you lose, breath when you win, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.


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Natasha Golinsky

Natasha Golinsky is the Founder of Next Level Nonprofits
She helps nonprofit CEO’s take their leadership skills to the next level
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4 Challenges Every Leader Faces

Life is Good

Regardless of the leadership role we play, there are common challenges every leader faces as we seek to build an organization or guide a team.

With challenges comes tensions, remedies, and goals. Are your ready to face them?

Here are 4 common challenges that every leader needs to overcome. Each of these challenges create tension just by facing them.

1) The Learning Challenge

Learning is optimized when truth meets life. The world is full of theorists and visionary dreamers. Their ideas are creative and often stimulating.

But we cannot determine the viability of an idea until it is tested in the crucible of reality.

Therefore, learning requires a gathering of facts and ideas, and the simultaneous action of putting such ideas to the test. I find that gathering information and shaping a hypothesis or strategy are both essential to learning.

  • Too much fact gathering can result in paralysis from analysis
  • Moving too quickly without thoughtful reflection and information affirms the old adage “haste makes waste.”

Usually a new idea needs about 30-60 days to percolate and investigate – then it is time to start shaping some initial experiments, pilot programs or beta tests. Then you can do some trial and error, assess and see if you need to gather more information and what kind of data you need.

2) The Development Challenge

Most organizational leaders are too busy executing yesterday’s strategy to make time for developing tomorrow’s leaders. Empowerment is needed, but it must be accompanied by skill development. F Former Harley Davidson CEO Teerlink once said this:

“If you empower dummies, you get dumb decisions faster!”

So we must provide empowerment and motivation as we develop others, but skill training cannot be neglected or you get zeal without knowledge.

Any development strategy requires attention to the “heart” – passions, motives, dreams – and skill development for the “hands” of every leader. Help an emerging leader know what to do but also why it needs to be done so that people change and the mission is accomplished.

3) The Reconciliation Challenge

Leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. First we must know how to manage it; listen, speak truth, identify areas that must be addressed, take responsibility for your part, agree to a solution, move ahead with integrity, and out the past behind.

But then we need to reconcile the relationships. It is one thing to solve the issue. But it is quite another to rebuild the relationship.

People tend to take one of two approaches:

  1. A gentle, kind approach designed to woo the person back into the relationship
  2. A direct, confrontational strategy that immediately brings truth to light and requires a direct response.

The “kind” people tend to circle the field hoping the conflict will go away or things will smooth over on their own. The confrontational person tends to shoot first and ask questions later. To hold these in tension is probably the better approach overall.

Speak the truth but do it in a gracious, even tone, seeking to understand the other person even as you point out the problem or issue. Give them some space to explain and response, but make sure you speak the whole truth.

4) The Impact Challenge

Every leader wants to make a difference in people’s lives and yet accomplish the mission or task. But there is often a tension when working with a team.  

Do we put more energy building relationships on the team and investing in people or focus on getting the job done with excellence and efficiency?

  • The answer to this question is YES.
  • You must hold both in tension.
  • You cannot ignore one and do the other.

Relationship building experiences, down time, meals together, and some relationship-building exercises are needed.

And a clear understanding of what success looks like for the project is equally important so that the task is completed with excellence. You can do both.

Here is a summary:

Challenge to Meet

Tension to Face

Desired Outcome



Personal Transformation



Skillful Passion



Healthy Conflict



Team Effectiveness

What does your team struggle with? It might help to set some time aside to review this chart and name the tensions you see. Ask your team to work through them openly and honestly, knowing that the tension will never go away, but that there are ways to navigate them together.


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Dr. Bill Donahue
Dr. Bill Donahue is President of LeaderSync Group, Inc

Bill is a professor at TIU and a Leadership Speaker and Consultant
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On Leadership, Management and Knowing Where to Tap

Knowing Where to Tap

Here is a story about understanding the difference between management and leadership.

An Age Old Story

In a rickety old part of town an old man goes to an old boiler factory to fix the only boiler on the work site. He gets shown around, told about the boiler problem, what had happened prior to it seizing up and stopping.  The factory manager asked him if there was anything he could do to bring it back to life.

He replied by asking if he could explore the whole boiler system by himself. After a while of deeply exploring the depths of the system he took out his hammer from his tool bag and hit the boiler hard, one time, in one place.

And as if by a miracle the whole boiler system shuddered and started to work – much better than it ever previously did.

The factory manager was amazed – he thanked the boiler engineer and asked him to send his invoice for prompt payment.

Two days later the factory manager received an invoice for $1000.

Horrified by the flat fee of the invoice, he requested a breakdown of his charges.

Another two days later he received the revised invoice.

Knowing Where to Tap

Moral of the Story

The moral of this story is simplistic but often overlooked.

Management ability can be compared to knowing how to use a hammer.

Leadership is knowing where to tap.


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Brad Waldron

Brad Waldron is Director at Origin BJJ UK
He serves as a Leading World Class Speaker, Facilitator & Corporate Athlete
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Hey Leaders: Who Killed the Bluebird of Happiness?

Bluebird of happiness

Have you ever wondered why the Bluebird of Happiness is blue?

… And is he really happy?  Not so sure… I’d say that being blue is a clue.

The happiness part is just a front.  It’s time the bird start taking a good hard look around his organization and see what’s really going on.

Leaving Your Boss

You have heard for a number of years now in various research settings and books that – “most employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers.” 

They leave their managers, not their leaders.

Why do employees leave their managers? 

  • Because they make them “blue”
  • They make them unhappy
  • They make them not want to come into work
  • And not want to work for (with) you

Manager or Leader?

Just because people accomplish what you want them to, and they’re hitting goals, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a leader.  It may just mean you’re a good manager.

Last month on the day that Michael Hyatt’s new book came out, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (which is excellent by the way,) someone posted a comment on Amazon about what a scam it was because he already had 74 great comments posted.

To put a long story short, when new books are getting ready to be published, a number of people, including “experts” are given pre-launch copies for review – hence the 74 comments.

Well you should have seen all of the people that commented back in Hyatt’s defense.  There’s a good definition of a leader.  Now think a moment . . . If you were “attacked” or “under the gun” from customers or superior’s, would you have in instant following standing up for you?

C’mon get Happy

So what do you managers need to do to become leaders – to get your staff to follow you?  Think of the ‘70’s TV show, “The Partridge Family” – c’mon get happy.

I know you’ve heard it a hundred times before (at least), but some people still just can’t grasp it . . . you are role models for your staff!  But you say (I’ve actually heard it), “I’m not here to be a role model, I’m here to get a job done”.  I say ‘bull hockey’!  You can get a lot more accomplished and in a much less harsh (brutal, severe) atmosphere by j-u-s-t  b-e-i-n-g  h-a-p-p-y.

Most people have always thought that if we work hard, we’ll be more successful, and if we’re more successful, then we’ll be happier.  Well that just may not be the case at all.

Happiness Fuels Success

That’s where Shawn Achor comes in.  In his book, The Happiness Advantage, he refers to “rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe” when he says that “happiness fuels success, not the other way around”.

Happiness is contagious, just as a bad attitude is.  Try it.  Walk into a room of your peers or staff with a big smile and just be basically courteous.  With few exceptions, very soon everyone will have a smile.

Just as your bad attitude affects the people you work with, so will a good attitude.  And as an added bonus, it could very well bring you more success.

For those of you who don’t think there’s anything to this notion of happiness then ask yourself why Shawn Achor’s TED Talk has had almost 2.5 million views.

“Okay, so what if I’m happier at work?  What’s in it for me?”  I’m glad you asked.  Your trickle down happiness is going to directly affect your staff, which in turn will result in:

  • better quality of work
  • better customer service
  • conscious acts of kindness
  • teamwork
  • openness
  • innovation
  • cooperation
  • fewer sick days
  • higher motivation
  • achieving potential

Should I keep going?

Happiness & You

Abraham Lincoln once said this:

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

In other words, you direct the path of your own happiness.  And along the way you can share in that happiness with just being, well, happy.

I’m not talking Happy like one of the Seven Dwarfs – just have a good attitude – about your job, about your staff, about your peers, about your bosses, about your friends and family.

Like I have said many times in my training workshops – attitude breeds attitude.  So if you want your staff to have good attitudes, you’ve got to walk the talk.  You’ve got to have the “happiness advantage.”

What is your happiness level?  Are you projecting the right attitude onto your staff?  What would the workplace be like if your attitude was better?


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Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Leaders: How Do You Look at Seniority?


Have you heard this statement before? It is: “I have seniority.”

So what do you mean exactly by “seniority? And why does this matter?


   [seen-yawr-i-tee, -yor-] noun

1. the state of being senior;  priority of birth; superior age.
2. priority, precedence, or status obtained as the result of a person’s length of service, as in a profession, trade,company, or union.

Barring unionized workforces, I just don’t believe this statement has as much meaning as it used to.  I remember, at the time I was coming into the workforce, hearing that term all the time.

It was common to hear phrases like these:

“I have seniority over you.”

 “I have nothing to worry about because I have seniority.”

Just a Number?

My step-daughter just turned 18 (. . . thank you all for the condolences…)  But seriously, I didn’t realize how A single number could be so magical.

18 = I’m an adult? 

Just like the word “seniority,”it can be just a number, or just a word. the number or word really has not power, authority, or gravitas. You don’t really get those things by reaching an age or place in line.

You have to live up to it.

Times are a Changing! 

Do you remember the days of resumes and one-on-one interviews?  Many organizations don’t even bother with resumes anymore and are now relying on interviews and web presence . . . (and BTW, what’s a one-on-one interview?)

Things have changed and many things that we used to know so well are becoming just words.  Just because one has seniority doesn’t necessarily mean he has the most knowledge, the most creativity, or the most comprehension.

It doesn’t mean he has what’s needed to be promoted and take the department or organization to the next level.

Many times, the employees with seniority are not the most productive. In fact, in some organizations, those with tenure may be those saying, “It can’t be done; we tried it ten years ago and it didn’t work.”

These people are not innovative; they’re usually opposed to changes, especially where new technology is concerned.

Seniority – Just a Word

Sure, there are many things that you can do with that word that you couldn’t do as a new employee.

You may have a few more perks like:

  • Job transfer
  • Shift assignment
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Vacation accrual
  • Promotion opportunities

But it’s not a magical “get out of jail card.”

While seniority was valued in the past, for many people today, the longer you have been with a company, the more your job may be in jeopardy.

Technology is changing things faster than ever.

Younger workers can be perceived as more creative and innovative and may even have more relevant educational experiences and training.

On Action and Development

So as a leader, if you haven’t already, now is the time to pause and take a look at your staff.  Start developing them and get them away from the coffee machine.

John C. Maxwell says:

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts.  It is about one life influencing another.”

Today’s leaders need to be up on, and stay up on, the newest trends, behaviors, and procedures.  And start training!  Not only your new staff but your senior staff as well.

If you downsize, merge, restructure, whatever – is it the guy that hangs out at the coffee machine all day, with “seniority” that you want to hold on to?

Or the guy with less time but busts his rear end for you, comes in early, stays late, and has continued to learn.  You ultimately need to know that you can trust them to have a positive impact on the business and to make good decisions.

Good leaders will help shape their employees and afford them the needed training to keep up on the continuous changes in their businesses.

Organizational Health Check-Up

There will come a time when you need to make important employment decisions.

A quality leader will look at all of the information and weigh all the options first.

By all means you don’t get rid of your senior people just because they’ve been there for many years and tip the pay scale.  Does anyone remember the 3400 employees laid off by a company called Circuit City?  That didn’t work out too well.

As long as your senior people are doing a good job and you’re encouraging them, helping them, and motivating them to continuously learn, they’re as precious as gold to you.

They know history.  And in many organizations, especially with high turnover, that’s a commodity.

A survey, conducted by IBM and reported on in the Economist, stated that,

“When the baby-boom generation retires, many organizations will find out too late that a career’s worth of experience has walked out the door, leaving insufficient talent to fill the void.”

Don’t just be a manager.  Be a Leaderinfluential, empowering, inspiring, motivating.  It will make your future decisions much easier.

Have you looked at your training program lately?  Are your senior people still looked after?  Can you honestly say that you support your staff? Please share your thoughts and comments. I would love to hear them!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Forming Influential Alliances with Colleagues

Influential Alliances

As a leader in your organisation, you work in a role where it is difficult to get things done alone. You cannot act unilaterally. 

You need to work productively with others if you really want to get things done!

More Than Just Getting Along

In order to accomplish things worthwhile, you need to find ways of working productively with a range of colleagues. Keep in mind that many of these co-workers might have quite different ways of approaching their work to you and some of whom might, at times, have quite different aims to you as well.

Nonetheless, if you are to build the level of influence you need to succeed, you need to find ways of getting things done in tandem with a selection of your peers, senior managers, and team members.

Building a Strong Alliance Foundation

In fact, to get some specific things done you might need to build and maintain influential alliances with selected colleagues.

  • Some of which may only last as long as it takes to achieve the aim for which the alliance was formed
  • Others of which might prove more enduring and benefit you down the road

Many of your most influential colleagues perform a role which is different from yours; yet interconnected to it.

~ You have to work with them on joint processes.

And to take joint decisions, because it simply won’t work any other way.

~ You may have sound ideas.

But turning your ideas into reality means that you have to influence a range of your colleagues to see the value of your contribution, and to see the merits of working with you to turn your embryonic idea into a practical output.

~You must work.

And be seen to work with each and every one of your peers and senior managers if you are to turn your valuable your raw ideas into action.

However, working closely with influential colleagues can carry risks with it and the potential that, if you don’t handle things well from the start, there will be some difficulties along the way.

Sealing Cracks in Your Foundation

Not Playing Nice

Some of your colleagues might not get what you are saying. They might not see your new idea as an opportunity, but more as a quirky or ill-considered gambit.

They may need some convincing.

Others of them might like your idea, but want to take the credit for it. Others again might say they’ll back you if you can get other people to support you first.

Some may – in unusual cases – want to injure your reputation or damage your profile in the organisation. They might decide to use your new idea against you, seeing it as an opportunity to discredit you politically.

On the other hand, if you handle them well, these very same colleagues could also be interesting, co-operative, and effective co-workers, the very people you need to bring your plans to fruition – and vital to you achieving the aims which matter most to you at work.

Finding Ways to Build on your Foundation

The challenge for you therefore lies in finding effective ways to build influence with colleagues with whom you may have:

  •  Little, if anything, in common.
  • Little to speak about apart from workplace issues.
  • Divergent approaches to resolving workplace issues and handling colleague relationships.
  • Widely differing sets of values and workplace principles.
  • Different ways of handling disagreement and conflict.

So, in order to get things done effectively with colleagues like these you will need to:

  •  Be mindful of the nature of the political landscape around you.
  • Understand what influences each of your colleagues – especially where these factors differ from what influences you.
  • Identify what they value at work and what they want to achieve (especially where their aims and the work processes they favour differ from yours.)
  • Find individual ways to convince each of them that it would be in their best interests to listen to what you have to say and to work constructively with you to achieve your goals.

Finalizing Your Design Plans Before You Begin

So, the next time you have a new idea or want to initiate something new, spend time formulating a strategy for influencing each of the key players prior to putting your ideas out there.

Commit to doing some upfront thinking about who you want to influence and in what specific way.  Decide in advance whose support you most need to secure if you are to bring your ideas to fruition, and put together an influencing strategy to enable you to create the kind of influential alliance you need to bring about the outcomes you want.

Which of your ideas do you want to turn into practical reality? With which of your colleagues specifically do you need to build influence for this to happen? What role do you want each of these people to play as you turn your idea into practical reality? What issues or angles relating to your idea will most interest  each of these people? And over which issues or angles will they need convincing?  What other factors do you need to take into account as you formulate your strategy for building influence with each of these key colleagues over the coming weeks and months? 

Aryanne Oade
 is Director of Oade Associates

She is a Chartered Psychologist, executive coach, workshop facilitator, author & public speaker
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