When I chat with young leaders today, many express the desire to be game changers. They seek to alter current paradigms. After all, innovation is sexy. So let’s step back for a moment and think about what it takes to be a true disruptor of the status quo.
There are certain personalities and drivers that go into the mix. Courage is key. Think about the boss you report to. If he/she is a get ‘er done kind of leader, that’s likely a recipe for a predictable yet tedious pathway. You may well just plod along. The company colour might be beige at best. Take a seat, no need for a shout out.
Organizational culture is also paramount. Does the company encourage and reward new ideas? If not, you will likely be shut down; true entrepreneurs forge ahead in the face of obstacles. They believe in the power of their ideas and choose to surround themselves with like-minded individuals.
Based upon substantive empirical research, companies that have women at the helm outperform those that do not. Why is that? Women foster innovation, seek alternate models and lead with a team perspective. Their egos exude confidence rather than follow a narcissistic playbook.
If you have a burning passion and believe that you can change the axis of the globe, there are a number of key steps you must follow:
Winning is not an option, it’s a guarantee. Your language must convey conviction. Elite athletes don’t believe they will finish first, they know they will finish first. Their cerebral wiring is about going for gold. They also attract a support network that works to maximize strengths.
Create momentum. If it’s a singular race, organizational and performance psychologists help to position alpha dogs to psychologically outperform the pack. If it’s a team initiative, then harnessing innovation by promoting a sense of collective ownership is vital. True leadership means you must reinforce team members to make their mark. They should know exactly how they contributed to the win. If they don’t, you as a leader likely disempowered them.
Research the company. What is the track record for innovation? Do they stay nimble and have a number of products in the pipeline? In essence, do they stay ahead of the curve?
Check out the CEO. In particular, has the CEO’s stewardship fostered an entrepreneurial mindset leading to an ability to anticipate trends, fulfill consumer needs and launch innovative products?
Insist that rules must be broken. Don’t blindly follow just because life worked that way in the past. History can be interesting, but living for the future has much more sex appeal.
Who should lead us? Here is a small, yet interesting, important and telling discovery. My son is getting ready to launch. He will soon leave the protective bubble of school and home life. In preparation he has chatted with many thought leaders and established rainmakers in the business community. It is prudent on his part to obtain as much wisdom and guidance as possible. He has talked to a wide community of established male and female leaders; everybody offered valuable insights. What was most fascinating was that female leaders were the ones who most often returned his calls, met with him in person, gave their generous time and provided real counsel. These female leaders were no less busy than their male counterparts. This is a bit of an intriguing mystery. I could only venture to guess these noted leaders see it as their duty to give back, provide mentorship and convey partnership and inspiration to those who are eager to understand what it means to be successful.
Focus on securing a career path is no doubt important. Though if you see yourself as wanting to change the world, then the organization you seek out should rock. The necessary ingredient required to reward game changing ideas is a culture of fluid and agile thinking. These are the organizations that encourage, stimulate and attract provocative leadership. I challenge you to make that happen.
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Do you consider yourself a game changer? How so? Are there any individuals who you admire as a game changer?