Innovation is Key, but Leaders Shy Away from Risks

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<p><b>Princeton, N.J. &mdash; Feb. 15</b><br/>Fostering innovation among technical professionals is regarded by those who manage them as a major organizational challenge, but according to a new study by global consultants BlessingWhite, these same leaders are slow to cultivate risk-taking and innovation within their own teams.</p> <p>BlessingWhite surveyed 898 executives who lead expert employees in industries such as financial services, pharmaceuticals, high technology and manufacturing, and it found half the respondents think &ldquo;encouraging innovation that meets customer and market needs&rdquo; is extremely or very challenging.</p> <p>&ldquo;Fostering creativity is certainly on the minds of managers today, and it&rsquo;s never more present than in organizations where research and development play such a crucial role,&quot; said Christopher Rice, BlessingWhite CEO. &quot;But since new ideas are at the very core of their company&rsquo;s mission, we hardly expected to see respondents rank risk-taking and innovation last on a list of actions essential to their own effectiveness as a leader.&rdquo;</p> <p>Respondents were asked, &quot;Please rate how important each of the following actions is for your success as a leader.&quot; </p><p>The percentage of respondents who said &quot;extremely or very important&quot; is as follows:</p><ul><li>Building collaborative relationships throughout my organization: <b>93 percent<br/></b></li></ul><ul><li>Communicating effectively at all levels of my organization: <b>92 percent</b></li></ul><ul><li>&nbsp;Building trust with my team: <b>90 percent</b><br/></li></ul><ul><li>Giving specific, relevant feedback: <b>88 percent</b> </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging my employees to take initiative in solving problems: <b>87 percent</b></li></ul><ul><li>Building a strong reputation for me and my team throughout the organization: <b>84 percent</b></li></ul><ul><li>Coaching and developing the technical professionals who report to me: <b>83 percent</b></li></ul><ul><li>Receiving feedback from others: <b>83 percent</b> </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging risk-taking and innovation within my team: <b>69 percent</b></li></ul><p>&ldquo;Leaders of technical or expert employees certainly know the pivotal role played by innovation, yet they seem to shy away from the actions needed to cultivate it,&quot; Rice said. &quot;Do they consider the responsibility for coming up with the &lsquo;next big idea&rsquo; someone else&rsquo;s job? Or do they hesitate to release the creativity of their teams because they fear some of the inevitable failures that accompany increased risk taking?&rdquo;</p> <p>Rice also said the findings go to the root of the issue facing science or technology-driven organizations.&nbsp; </p><p>&ldquo;These organizations need transformational leadership,&quot; Rice said. &quot;Senior management knows it has to overcome its directive leadership style, to deal with institutional inertia and even with opposition to disruptive innovation.&nbsp; </p><p>&quot;At the same time, despite its commitment to innovation, senior management invariably tries to curtail &lsquo;out of control&rsquo; R&amp;D spending and to squeeze each function or department for a better margin and profit. This is the duality challenging organizations today.&rdquo; </p>

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