Hidden secrets of the Innovator
Mark Loftus for Business Vision

Innovators: entrepreneurs taking risks, investors with confidence in their own judgement, colleagues who find the new angle. What makes them tick?

You may assume they are filled with self-confidence, but not every innovator is (or at least has not yet been recognised as) the next Jobs, Gates or Musk. They could well be quiet and unassuming, and not display their potentially explosive talent. You may sense from them underlying unease or tension, a symptom of the dark side that leads them to discovery and invention.

Whoever they are, they are in demand with the world’s business leaders. Leadership teams are learning to identify and attract them, and ensure that they arrive once they’ve been lured in.

Novelists, musicians and artists all create, but innovation goes further. It means experimentation, time-wasting, risk-taking, being prepared to search for something that may not exist… or even be possible.

Ironically, based on the reports of 7,000 CharcterScope users surveyed, innovators are likely to be low in self-belief. They often doubt their own work, and are constantly evaluating and dismissing their own ideas before they’re properly formed.

Their colleagues can inadvertently add to the problem by being over-critical, or fretting about potential risks and downsides too early in the piece.

Managing Innovators requires care and nurture. Some will need encouragement, to be told when to push on, and when to quit. But identifying the innovators in a company is not always straightforward. Data shows that many people whose pattern of strengths indicating a strong fit to the innovator will be invisible because of that lack of self-confidence.

What’s more, fresh ideas are fragile things: subjected to too much scrutiny too early, they will shrivel and die (unfortunately reinforcing self-doubt in the process).

To nurture the spirit of innovation, think more like a midwife than a surgeon: be encouraging and supportive, and guide when you can in what is often a messy and disruptive process.

If you are the innovator, try to find a creative mentor who is willing to support you. The most satisfying part of innovation is doing it with like-minded people, working co-operatively.

To read the piece on the Business Vision website click here and go to page 50-51/112.

Read Benefit of the doubt? The Innovator and Self-belief.