I love travelling across the globe gathering and sharing insights with customers, prospective customers, and partners across industries. It’s exciting to tap into people’s enthusiasm for making their organizations more effective and making the world a better place.
During my conversations, several truths have resonated with me and with ambitious business leaders. But, the one that consistently stands out is this: if you are looking to carve out a reputation for yourself or for your company as a true leader, the most reliable path is that of product innovation. That’s because at its core, product innovation is leadership.
It turns out that the very qualities that propel people and organizations ahead of competitors and cause them to achieve a leadership role in crowded industries are precisely those qualities underpinning great product innovation. Here’s what I mean:
Vision, tenacity, and courage – Leaders in every realm constantly face a barrage of pressures that threaten to take them off their chosen course. Vision is the beacon that enables them to stay focused. Similarly, product innovation requires determination and courage to ward off dissenting opinions, detractors, a tidal wave of conflicting data, and circumstances that potentially distract or dilute bold product visions.
Self-awareness – True leaders have an accurate sense of their strengths as well as where they need to improve. That self-awareness is a prerequisite for being able to devote time and resources to addressing any shortcomings. In the same way, organizations that consistently create innovative products are keenly aware of their core competencies.
Honesty and integrity – Leaders hold these particular values important because they recognize that leading people, projects, and organizations is forever evolving. Maintaining a strong set of positive and relatable values provides a strong foundation – i.e. a moral compass – during those times when it’s really tough to lead. Likewise, successful product innovation demands a candid review and accommodation of competitors and product capabilities.
Team building and communications – Great leaders inspire greatness; people want to rally around them and do great things. To get to that point, leaders constantly devote time and energy to honing their communications – i.e. providing relevant, timely, and compelling messages as well as actively listening. Similarly, successful product innovation depends on thoughtful communications among multiple stakeholders that includes establishing and sustaining conversations with would-be customers, analysts, developers, marketers, and members of the media.
When you embody all of these qualities, you are destined to be an effective leader. When you apply them to product innovation, your products will change the world.