Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen, in their essential components of “The Innovator’s DNA” make the important point that, while all successful innovators share certain characteristics, those characteristics are not literally written into an innovator’s DNA. Instead, it is essential to practice thinking creatively. What innovators achieve is the result of their actions and what they do, not simply who they are.
With this in mind, it stands to reason that it is important to periodically assess whether you are on the right track in developing the skills of a leader who successfully fosters creativity in the organization. This self-assessment is not the final verdict on the level or depth of your creativity or your potential success as an innovator, but instead is an important part of understanding the ways you currently lead others and thinking about how you will lead others in the future.
Regardless of where you are in the organization, there are leadership characteristics you have or would like to strive towards as you develop professionally. For this Individual Reflection you will identify and describe an innovation leader who has inspired you. This Individual Reflection will allow you to conduct a personal analysis of leadership qualities between you and an innovation leader to help you identify key leadership dimensions that you can develop.
Note: For the sake of clarity, be mindful during this Individual Reflection to focus on a leader that you admire who inspires innovation and not a leader who is innovative in terms of leadership style and characteristics.
For this Individual Reflection, describe a person who successfully brought together leadership, foresight, creativity, and innovation. This person should be someone with whom you have worked or who has inspired you in your professional career or personal life. (Note: You do not need to identify the individual by name, if he or she is someone you personally know). Be sure to include the following:
- Part 1: Provide an opening section where you provide your assessment of the characteristics of this innovation leader that you currently do not possess or demonstrate that you would like to develop. Your own characteristics are the baseline in the analysis, and the innovation leader you identified is the model. If you are not currently in a leadership role, envision how you might develop these characteristics in a future position. Be sure to consider the following factors and questions:
- Explain how this innovation leader supported a creative environment, and how they catalyzed, implemented, and promoted innovation in the organization.
- Describe the leadership skills he or she used to foster creativity in successful ways.
- How does the leader engage stakeholders (vendors, executives, board members, employees) in the innovative or creative process? For example, how does the leader conduct a stakeholder analysis?
- Provide an inventory of leadership characteristics exhibited by this leader using the Leader Characteristic Inventory Handout document in this week’s Resources.
- Part 2: Provide a self-assessment on the extent to which you have (or need to cultivate to be successful) the dimensions of leadership that foster creativity. For each of the following dimensions of leadership, assess how you currently display (or would display) the dimensions in your work and professional life. Provide a brief explanation of your self-assessment for each of the dimensions listed below. (Refer to “The Innovator’s DNA” for more details about each of these innovator dimensions):
- Cultivating New Thinking
- Comfort with Change
- Risk tolerance
- Part 3: Aggregate your findings and provide a summary of the main lessons you have learned about yourself as a leader (present or aspiring) and what you may need to work on to achieve your identified dimensions. How important do you think it is that leaders possess these dimensions and which do you think are the most important to your future? Provide your rationale or examples to justify your answer.
By Day 4, submit a paper that addresses the four areas listed above. Include your Innovation Leader Characteristic Inventory within the body or your paper or as an Appendix, depending on what makes better sense for the way you organize your assignment.
Refer to the Week 7 Individual Reflection assignment rubric for this assignment for specific grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use this Rubric to assess your work.
Submit your Assignment by Day 4.
Guidance on Assignment Length: Your Week 4 Application assignment should be 6–10 pages (3–5 pages if single spaced), excluding a title page and references.