Innovative leaders articulate the way forward for their teams

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We recently reread a Fast Company blog post by Seth Kahan, a change specialist who will publish his new book, “Getting Innovation Right”, in early 2013.

Seth presents three practical secrets for the innovative leader. We were particularly struck by his second secret:

Secret #2. Articulate the Way Forward

People rely on their leaders to craft a vision of the future that makes sense and can guide their everyday decisions. Most of the leaders I have met improvise this activity and many do it badly. And yet articulating a rousing vision of the future isn’t difficult. It can be your secret super-power, if you just master these three tactics:

> Be explicit about your conclusions and how you came to them. Speak in terms people can understand and relate to. Do more than share judgment — provide insight to your reasoning.

> Give people the opportunity to ask questions. Encourage diverse points of view and different backgrounds. Let people react, inquire, challenge, and extract the information they need to satisfy their understanding. Then you will be in the best position to move forward together.

> Customize your message to your audience. Include something useful in their day-to-day work experience that makes the message personally relevant.

“Most leaders improvise this activity”

Lying behind Seth’s second secret is the need to give people reasons to innovate in the first place.

Vision is one part of this.

Another part is the meaningful outcome of your vision.

That is, why it matters beyond simply generating revenues.

That is, why it matters to people, society, and/or the environment.

That is, why it matters to the employees whom you need to realize your vision.

People see how to create focused, relevant, successful innovation

When people are driven by a statement that starts with, “We see a world in which…”, and which ends with a meaningful payoff, they are better equipped to create focused, relevant, and successful innovation — and why being innovative will prove fulfilling.

They see where you want to be, and why it will be good to get there.

They will not only get it logically, they will feel it emotionally.

Give people meaningful reasons to innovate

When crafted properly, reasoned out, and made relevant to each person on the team, a compelling vision coupled with a Brand Promise, will give your team meaningful reasons to change their behavior, focus the efforts, and invest their energies in your business ventures.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy firm.

Originally published at

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