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  • Writer's pictureHassan Younes

What Makes a Great Leader?

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

When you fail to innovate, complacency starts to creep in. Thankfully, some of the world’s greatest leaders can tell you what you need to know about innovating.

You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are today.

When you started your company, you had all of these amazing goals ahead of you. Everything that you did felt fresh and innovative. The power of that innovation helped you to get ahead of your competition and carve out your own niche…

And then you sat back and rested on your laurels.

That’s a dangerous thing for any company. If you don’t continuously innovate, you will eventually stagnate. All of your hard work will be for naught as your competition catches up to and surpasses you.

You can’t allow that to happen.

After all, the greatest business leaders in the world don’t let it happen. People like Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch constantly innovate to achieve amazing things. That’s why they never fell to the cancer of complacency.

Allow them to inspire you.

These are the five quotes from great leaders that will help you to understand innovation and the role it plays.

Steve Jobs – Innovation Isn’t About Spending Money

With almost infinite resources at its disposal, you’re forgiven for thinking that Apple can just throw money at problems. However, the company’s former CEO, Steve Jobs, points out that this isn’t the case:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Apple wasn’t always the business behemoth that it is today. There was a time when it came nowhere near matching the budgets of its competitors.

And yet, it still prospered.

The lesson here is that you can’t get into the mindset of needing money to innovate. Great ideas don’t cost a thing. True innovation comes from the people that you have and the culture that you create in your company.

If you encourage your people to think outside of the box, they will present new concepts to you. They’ll come up with ways to do what you do even better. Allow your people the freedom to create within their roles and your company will never stagnate.

Albert Einstein – Innovation Is About Ascending to the Next Level

Albert Einstein was not a business leader, of course. However, there’s no denying that he had one of the most innovative minds in history. Einstein’s capacity for innovation redefined everything that we knew about physics.

And he offers an important lesson to any who struggle to innovate:

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”

Einstein tells us that you can’t solve problems if you stick to the same type of thinking that led to the problem in the first place. You could almost see this as a rework of another quote that many attribute to Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Innovation comes when you change the way you think. Einstein’s essentially warning you against the dangers of complacency with these quotes. He’s telling you that if you can’t take your thinking to another level, you can’t solve the problems that you face in business.

Solving a problem involves thinking about what you can do differently. It means exploring options that you haven’t looked into before. After all, the things you’ve already done aren’t solving the problem. Those very things may be the cause of the problem in the first place.

Rupert Murdoch – The Fast Beat the Slow

You may not immediately think of Rupert Murdoch as an innovator. And yet, he’s managed to stay on top of the media world for decades for a simple reason:

He knows that he needs to adapt to the times to thrive.

Murdoch displayed this line of thinking with a simple quote:

“The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

There are two messages here for you to take away.

First, Murdoch counters the idea that some businesses are too big to fail. He points out that size doesn’t matter as even the smallest of companies can change the way that an entire niche works. We’ve seen this so many times before with the collapse of companies like Polaroid and Blockbuster. Having a big business does not mean you have an innovative one.

Second, Murdoch also points to speed as being a crucial component of success. That’s key to understand as an innovator.

So many leaders get tied up in trying to do new things perfectly that they allow others to do them first. This results in the leader seeming like a copycat, even if they have a better product. Imperfect action on a new idea trumps holding back until you can do it all perfectly.

Bill Gates – Innovation Requires Collaboration

Steve Jobs touched on the idea of collaboration when talking about innovation. But it’s Microsoft founder Bill Gates who really digs into the idea when he says:

“Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.”

As mentioned, fostering an innovative culture helps your team to share their ideas. But Gates also discusses how important it is to listen to your customers too. They are your audience and, ultimately, they’re the people who will use your product or service. Listen to their needs and wants so that you can use them to determine the future direction of your business.

Elle MacPherson – Don’t Worry About What Others Think

Many think of Elle MacPherson as one of the greatest models in history. But what many don’t know is that she’s an extremely successful businesswoman too. She’s the founder of WelleCo, which offers a large range of plant-based wellness products.

That business currently has a net worth in the $200 million region.

When speaking about innovation in leadership, MacPherson says:

“You check to see the facts are correct where business is concerned but if I read everything that was written about me, I'd end up feeling totally insecure about myself.”

The lesson here is that you can’t allow the opinions of others to dictate your future. In MacPherson’s case, this involves blocking out a lot of what’s written about her. She isn’t interested in the opinions of those who don’t understand her, her business, or her market.

This frees her mind from the insecurity that could lead to the fear that stops people from innovating. It allows her to try new things without worrying about what anybody else has to say about them.

Are You an Innovator?

Each of the leaders on this list stands out because they constantly look for ways to create change. They’re not satisfied with the success that they have right now. Instead, they focus on innovating to grow that success and develop even more powerful businesses.

Can you say the same?

Innovation is one of the keys to avoiding the complacency that can destroy a business. I’d like the opportunity to speak with you on a deeper level about this topic.

Get in touch to book me for your next speaking event.

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