4 Essential Qualities of Innovation Team Leaders

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If you want to lead a team that’s working on big, new ideas, here’s what you need to know. Read Samuel Bacharach’s latest article on
Hints From Academia

Hints From Academia: Teams & Creativity

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In an organizational setting much of creativity occurs in the context of a team. Therefore, how individuals relate to others on their team may be very relevant to their own creativity. Interestingly enough, while we make a lot of assumptions about this, there is not a lot of concrete research. But two particularly interesting articles in this area come to mind and offer excellent insights.

In the first piece, Why Seeking Help From Teammates Is a Blessing and a Curse: A Theory of Help Seeking and Individual Creativity in Team Contexts, the authors, Jennifer S. Mueller and Dishan Kamdar, explore whether help seeking is positivity related to ones own creativity. Using data collected from a large multi-national corporation they find that while seeking help from team mates can result in creative performance, creativity is sometimes limited because people often feel the need to reciprocate help. Clearly seeking help is both a blessing and a curse.

In another article What Goes Around Comes Around: Knowledge Hiding, Perceived Motivational Climate, and Creativity, the authors, Matej Černe, Christina G. L. Nerstad, Anders Dysvik, and Miha Škerlavaj, examine an unfortunate reality of organizational life: employees often retain information from their coworkers rather than offering help. This creates a distrust loop. It has major negative implications for organizational creativity and innovation.

Taken together these pieces provide real hints as to why it is essential for innovation leaders to create a team environment of safety and trust.


Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice. 

BLG Leadership Insights Proactive Leaders

It’s Never about the “I”

Yesterday, my beloved Red Sox pulled off a great comeback. Down 6-0 after 5 1/2 innings they stormed back for a walk-off 8-7 win. It was quite the victory, especially for a team that has underperformed much of the year. At the same time their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, have been falling apart lately thanks to internal strife and uninspired play. Both teams are flush with cash, both teams have rabid fan bases, both teams have talent laden rosters. Why then the current divergent paths?

While there are many different reasons, one stands out: a lack of cohesion.  Whether you are Major League Baseball’s #2 most valuable team ($912 Million) or a small business with five employees, having a common vision is one the true keys to success.

In the case of the Yankees and the Red Sox, we can get a feel of how they are heading in two different direction by looking at two very different player quotes.

Following last night’s aforementioned game, the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia told the Boston Herald:

“The game plan’s winning, that’s it…I tell…all the guys, we’re here to win. It doesn’tmatter if you hit .270, .280 with the personal stuff…It doesn’t matter what you do. It’s what we all do. It’s been fun lately. We’re climbing, man. That’s what we’re going to do. Get on the elevator and go.”

At the same time following their 6th straight loss the Yankees’ Rafael Soriano, who has been sidelined with an arm injury, was asked if it’s been hard watching all the losing from the sidelines, he responded:

“Right now, I don’t think the bullpen (is) the problem. It (is) the hitters. A lot of games we’ve been losing by two or three runs, I wouldn’t be in those games anyway.”

When you have true continuity, when you have a true sense of commonality, it shows. As a pragmatic and proactive leader it is this level of togetherness that must be attained to succeed. You want more “we” and less “I”.  It works in baseball, it works in business and it works in life.

Right about now you might be asking, “Hey Sean, it’s easy to be a positive, team player when things are going great, how about when you’re in the pits?” Glad you asked. When the Red Sox started the 2011 season 0-6, Dustin Pedroia responded to doubters by telling reporters:

“You’re either two feet in now or you’re two feet out. Let us know now because we’re coming.”

Even in the roughest of times, it’s about a shared sense of responsibility and accountability. If this message never wavers, then you have a better chance at success.

As far as the Yankees go, it’s now up to their leader/manager, Joe Girardi, to get his team on the same page. No more “I” and “me” and a lot more “us” and “we”. As simple or as difficult as it might sound, if you can gather your direct reports into a tight, cohesive team, then no amount of six-game losing streaks can keep the whole from succeeding.

BLG Leadership Insights Leadership On the Edge

10 Must-Read Social Media & Leadership Stories From June 1-4

1. Breaking bad news to the boss or a colleague can be hard. Thankfully (and with humor) Nicole De Flanco gives us 5 easy steps to follow.

2. A great (and easy to follow) guide to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and how it relates to management.

3. Leaders have to control their ego in order to lead effectively. Here are 10 ‘red flag’ warning signs that narcissism might be looming.

4. Social media recruiting: looking for work and networking on Facebook just got easier with Simply Hired.

5. Great ways cloud computing can help small businesses (cheaply and easily).

6. WikiLeaks fights for transparency. A great example of a visionary leader under pressure.

7. Using social media to bridge the Baby Boomer / Gen Y generation gap.

8. Location can shape the quality of a person’s work. This post explains four reasons location can be a big factor for leaders and teams.

9. Great resource: The Top 50 HR Blogs to Watch.

10. Doing business in China is a challenge. We’d do well to learn form how different corporate leaders deal with the hurdles.

Picture Link: Heisenberg