As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically impact the global economy, with unemployment levels we have not seen for 90 years, all businesses are creating new forecasts, considering new lines of revenue and looking for creative and resourceful solutions to daunting new challenges.
More than ever, we need to cultivate an environment of innovation, creativity and thought-leadership. Organizations that can cultivate thought leadership from within their teams have a strategic advantage when it comes to growth in market leadership, product and service development, accountability, and client engagement. And, right now, cultivating a creative and innovative environment can help you weather the storm now, in order to emerge stronger, once COVID-19 has dissipated.
The Oxford dictionary defines thought leadership as “intellectual influence and innovative or pioneering thinking. The term has been around since the 19th century, but in the past ten years “thought leader” has become a buzzword used to describe experts who know the ins and outs of their industry, and can come up with innovative ideas to cater to the demands and needs of their audience.
The best, most innovative ideas don’t always come from the Owner, CEO or senior-level staff. Your mid-level managers, working with clients, operating the day-to-day, building products or services, have a very different perspective on the organization, which can be very valuable. Nearly any team member will be able to pin-point issues and problems, but an environment where thought-leadership is encouraged will help your organization find innovative solutions to the daunting challenges we all face now.
So, how do you encourage thought leadership from within your organization? Here are four ideas:
1. Create the Right Environment
If you want to create an organization brimming with creativity and thought-leadership, create an environment where it’s easy for everyone to speak and share ideas.
2. Set up Sessions Where Ideas Can Be Developed
Set up regular team sessions dedicated to generating and sharing of ideas. Bring together various people who don’t normally work together.
3. Find the Talent
Look for people who are innovative, communicative, creative, quick-thinking, focused, analytical, objective and responsive. Notice who members of your team go to for help or advice. Set up trial projects to see which team members rise to the top.
4. Recognize and Reward
Rewarding and recognizing a job well done will boost the confidence of the thought-leader, while serving to motivate team members, encouraging thought leadership to thrive in your organization.
According to research by the Harvard Business Review, team members are more likely to actively participate in creative problem-solving and creating thought-leadership when they are able to see the overarching value in contributing. Chances are that if a team member doesn’t understand why they are being asked to participate in generating and sharing ideas, it will be a lot more challenging to get them to share ideas.
The most straightforward way to encourage thought leadership within your organization is to create the right environment, give team members room to come and share ideas, recognize when you find a thought leader, and reward them for offering and implementing their ideas. Good luck!