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The Innovative Manager: Two Qualities To Look For In Your Next Hire

Innovative business has no room for the overbearing leader!
by Sarah Moriarty | Mar 23 2015
Traditional managerial attitudes are out for good. Here’s what’s in.


If you haven’t noticed already, many companies are dumping traditional employee-manager models in favor of flat hierarchies. The classic archetype of the suited-up CEO sitting in a private, cushy office and barking orders is, thankfully, transitioning out. But why is it happening?

The answer is simple. Companies are recognizing that in order for the most innovative ideas to surface, managers can’t be putting their own ideas and attitudes before everyone else’s. Historically, business hierarchies have promoted this notion with a top-down structure. In The Idea-Driven Organization, Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder explore the fact that a good manager doesn’t just generate ideas, she facilitates them from her subordinates, too.

The takeaway here is that no matter how your company is structured, managerial attitudes have a major impact on success. Idea-driven managers inspire positive results with an open-minded approach.

So how can you ensure that your company is brimming with this kind of leadership? When you’re hiring or promoting, look for someone with these two qualities.

A great manager is humble

Research from the University of Stanford confirms that when managers rise to the top, they often lose connection with employees beneath them. They adopt the notion that their management status somehow makes them “better” than everyone else. You can imagine how detrimental this is for your company in the long run.

Enter the humble manager! She keeps employee spirits high, new ideas flowing, and company gears churning smoothly. Look for a someone who won’t sacrifice humility while climbing the corporate ladder.

A great manager is deeply engaged

Traditional hierarchies have made it easy for managers to hide away in private offices, distancing themselves further from the core workforce and its collective ideas and opinions. As we’ve learned, a manager needn’t be the source of all great ideas at your company. Quite the contrary, it’s important for her to listen to everyone’s input, seek out good ideas from all members of the staff, and engage with employees both above and below her on the ladder.

One of Toyota’s core company values is something they call “going to the gemba.” Gemba is a Japanese word that refers to a place where the real work is done. Everyone at Toyota – including the managers – works with the assumption that all important ideas and happenings come from the gemba, so they focus daily on diving into what goes on at the gemba and improving it.

Now that you know which qualities to look for in leadership, check out The Idea-Driven Organization by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder to inspire more change in your company. You can also grab the best bits from this 12-minute blinks summary.

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