Although every organisation is projected to succeed, that is not always the case. Business success is a result of a combination of strategy, business models, structure, processes, technology and, most of all, culture.

The greatest visionary leaders of outstanding organisations have one thing in common: they know that culture matters and they all foster a culture that allows for self-growth and, therefore, innovation within their companies. Having a team that is multidisciplinary, motivated and integrated is key to achieve innovation.

There are many ways in which a leader can create a culture of innovation for their employees to thrive and their companies to succeed. Here are six of them:

1- Be clear about your desire to innovate

Outline human-centred company objectives and be clear about your innovation mission. If you run a finance company, for example, your innovation mission could be: “Take care of our clients’ finances in such a way that they will not remember how life was before we started looking after their money”.

2- Create a company structure that allows for downtime

Although the glorification of busy is a contemporary thing that everyone seems to be proud of, innovation requires maturing time. Create a culture within your company that allows your employees to have downtime to explore new ideas. Back to back meetings are not a synonym to great work being done.

3- Be approachable, but give people autonomy

Trust your team and their talents, allow them to explore their ideas and follow their hunches. As a leader, your job is to guide people in the right direction, not to think for them. A great way to do that is by introducing Design Thinking methodologies to your team. If you’d like to explore that option, start by downloading Echos’ Design Thinking Toolkit.

4- Create – formal and informal – reward programs for innovative behaviour

Incorporating a habit of acknowledging innovative ideas is crucial when trying to establish innovative behaviour as the norm. Formal ways of rewarding employees that dare to think outside the box, such as awards, are a great way to encourage your team to never conform to the norms. Aside from that, creating small daily rituals that show appreciation for your employees’ efforts is as important, if not more. When people feel like they are looked after, supported and have room to explore, they will always be motivated to do better.

5- Work on your organisation’s symbology & history

Creating a narrative and allowing employees to become part of the story is extremely important for a standout company. Company symbology, history and traditions are important to create a bond within peers. Think about phrases that represent your mission and incorporate that to your office space, to your verbatim, to your demeanour. Create posters showcasing employee’s success stories, cheer them on, make them feel appreciated. Instate habits that, over time, will become company history, pride, folklore. When a company is unique, talented people who care about innovation will want to join the team, so work on creating a space that is inviting to the kind of people you want to be there.

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Rani Ghazzaoui Luke

Rani is a writer and actor based in Sydney, Australia. She is Echos Head of Content & Communications, and the Editor in Chief of The Echos Newsletter.

Before joining Echos, she worked in full-service advertising agencies as a copywriter, moved onto writing for Broadcast Media, and landed on Digital Media, working first as a Digital Producer and later as a Digital Account Manager. Most recently, she was Lead Client Solutions Manager for GumGum Inc, an ad tech company specialised in Artificial Intelligence.

Rani is a highly curious individual that believes creativity and innovation are the most important tools to propel any person or business forward.

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