Why the Silicon Valley Innovation Mindset Creates More Opportunity for Everyone.
We see all manner of leadership development hacks. From those that prescribe getting up a few hours earlier to add more productivity to your day to those which focus on acquiring “hard” skills. All can be additive depending on your unique situation.
So where do we find the most impactful model that can level up all use cases?
By looking at the innovation mindset and leadership criteria that breed successful founders, we can gain insight into the most compelling combination of hard skills, soft skills, and traits that usually exist with successful entrepreneurs.
As it turns out, this combination can be developed and applied by anyone — whether an entrepreneur or an employee — and still drive more successful outcomes overall.
More successful outcomes mean more financial opportunities, just one measure of success, but one that facilitates and supplements the growth of new economic development activities.
A Deconstruct of the Innovation Mindset
Admittedly there are many combinations of the above factors, but at its core, the innovation mindset embodies an open-minded world view that is led by curiosity. is slow to make judgments and rely on stereotypes, and looks at the world from the problem-solving perspective of “How can we make this better?” instead of “But we’ve always done it this way.” It is also growth-oriented and the antithesis of zero-sum thinking. Failure is viewed as an integral component of the overall success trajectory, instead of something to be judged with negativity.
An easy example of this playing out is well-illustrated by the invention of the automobile. The general population didn’t come up with the idea. They thought the way transportation had always been done — with horses — was perfectly fine. Had Henry Ford not challenged this notion and ultimately disrupted an entire industry catering to horse and buggies, we could still be relying on horses to get around.
Long-Range Vision Required
Another distinguishing trait is the ability to envision not only what the world will look like 5 - 10 years down the road but also what trends are in place now that point to where change may be needed in the future.
A great example of this entrepreneurial vision can be found again in the field of transportation. We can either choose to look out five years from now and assume nothing different about the way we’ll get around or we can imagine a world where autonomous vehicles are a mainstay and further anticipate and extrapolate all the things we assume as status quo in today’s world that may be disrupted by autonomous vehicles.
Other qualities that successful founders have in spades run an extensive gamut from grit to being scrappy and agile — and everything in between. As a founder you’re bucking the odds, the challenges are great, and you may have a 5-year path before seeing the fulfillment of your idea.
Where Globally Competitive Leadership Intersects
Stepping away from the startup community and looking at why this model prevails for ALL individuals we just need to think in terms of an employer, employee and even students looking to amplify their employment options.
Translation: In today’s world technical skills (including academic performance) will take you only so far.
Leadership and an entrepreneurial mindset are now the leading qualifications for highly respected companies such as IBM, Bank of America, Google, Home Depot, Starbucks, Hilton, Costco, Apple, and more.
These companies have dropped the hiring requirement for having a degree and instead focus on finding those individuals who possess the traits we’ve looked at above.
If you think about it, this presents broad implications for everyone involved in the process of grooming talent. Educators, policy-makers, those trying to ignite economic development plans, and community leaders need to be aware and receptive to integrating these concepts into your curricula and leadership development initiatives.
Once again a long-range view is good for all. And there is no additional cost to model these behaviors in all circumstances. In a globally competitive world, we can all gain simply by borrowing a page from the entrepreneurial mindset and innovation playbook. Why reinvent the wheel?