Creativity and innovation are often seen as characteristics that a person is born with or they are not. However, it has been determined that the traits of divergent thinkers can be developed over time by honing the habits and skills of highly successful business innovators like Thomas Zaccagnino and others. Here we’ve gathered some emotionally-intelligent attributes of innovative thinkers and doers so that they can be used as guidelines for the business innovators who sees himself as a work in progress.
Emotionally intelligent people check their egos at the door.
People looking to become innovators have their egos under control, which allows them to be open to the ideas of others. Because they don’t automatically think their ideas are the best, they are able to accumulate the thoughts, opinions, and visions of others as a larger source of data from which they can draw. They value the input of others, which means that they are almost always viewed by others as trustworthy team players. They are less likely to look solely at popular ideas or to take credit for the ideas of others, making them and their thoughts a valuable asset to businesses.
Innovators are naturally and continuously curious.
People who are innovative are curious about concepts, issues, and other people. They are open to new information and are always looking out for new ideas that can be used for a variety of purposes and as part of a toolkit for future problem-solving. This means that innovators explore new ways to increase their knowledge base, from being avid readers to engaging in conversations with strangers to attending events that will provide them with opportunities to learn something new. Every person they talk to, every seminar they attend, every article or book they read possesses knowledge that may be beneficial to the innovator in the long run, and they continuously look for ways to unleash their curiosity and improve all areas of business processes and practices.
Emotionally intelligent people are confident, but devoid of arrogance.
Innovators are able to express their confidence in a way that is not confrontational and can be assertive without being aggressive. They carry with them an unwavering belief that they have good ideas and can innovate accordingly, but are also aware that their ideas are not always spot on. This leaves room for the ideas and improvements of others, and also allows them to view failures as temporary setbacks, not permanent washouts. Ultimately, this allows them to check off a way that did not work and brings them one step closer to the way that will, especially in light of their ability to respect and accept the ideas of others. Their ability to see failure as a process allows them to let go of ideas that are proven to be wrong and not view the failure itself as something personal. This means that their emotions do not interfere with the innovative process itself, and in business, can lead to high levels of productivity and inventiveness.
Innovators are empathetic listeners.
Good listeners focus on more than the words being said. They are also aware of the tone, the body language, and the emotions behind the spoken word. This allows the emotionally intelligent individual to absorb valuable information, process it, and formulate a response that is complete and insightful. Good listening almost always leads to strong relationships with others and increased capacity for empathy. Because all humans have a strong desire to be heard and understood, it is natural for people to be attracted to innovators that we feel have taken the time and effort to hear us. In the workplace, this can lead to a collaborative perspective that encourages dynamic business growth and improvements.
Innovators embrace change as a natural outcome of learning and life.
Being innovative means doing things that have never been done before or doing things differently. Embracing this idea means that innovators welcome change and are willing to create environments in which people are provided with the tools and resources to challenge the status quo. A dynamic, highly productive, values-based organization will furnish opportunities for their employees to grow, making them feel valued and respected. With clarity about their roles and responsibilities and an understanding that it is networks of people that are responsible for long-term change and sustainability, collaboration becomes less of a challenge. Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in a vibrant company that embraces change is easier (and innovation is a natural outcome) when change is seen as a beneficial part of flexibility, strength, personal growth, and improvements.
Are you aware of other things one can do to become an innovator in a particular field or industry? Feel free to share your ideas here.