The Second Role of an Innovative Leader

Read the video transcript below for the second role in innovative leadership:

Hi, I’m Josh Barker, CEO of City Innovation Labs.  And this is the third video in our series called Cultivating Innovation where we talk about the roles that an innovative leader plays in order to Create an Innovative Team. In this video I’m going to talk about the second role an innovative leader, which is that of a follower.

One of the great Shepherd leaders in my life once told me something that has stuck with me to this day: If you don’t know how to follow, you don’t know how to lead. And in this video we’ll talk about 3 things that an innovative leader does to put on the role of follower in their actions, in their words, and in their attitude.

1. In Their Action: They Always Make Others Successful

Good followers always desire to make their team successful.  They are hyper-focused on following through on their own commitments in order to achieve the team’s goals.

For those that have heard of the hero’s journey, the role a follower is that of the wise sage that gives others the sword to win the treasure — making others the hero. And as a leader, this means empowering others by giving them the opportunity and the space to be successful.

2. In Their Words: They Always Make Others Look Good

A good follower builds up and encourages others around them which brings the best out in each team member.  They want others to have the spotlight and intentionally fall to the background.

At City Innovation Labs we have a mechanism for making others look good.  While it sounds a bit kitschy, we use an add-on to our communication tool that allows us to give rewards in the form of virtual “tacos” to each other.  Every day people are given 5 tacos to award to others and we tag each other with a core value or two while giving these out.

It’s a fun and great way to make others look good and create a culture where we are constantly striving to give others the spotlight.

3. In Their Attitude: They Always Treat Others as More Important 

Another one of our core values is Humility and Intelligence.  We hire people that are both incredibly smart but also incredibly humble.

Treating others as more important always requires personal sacrifice since it means putting others needs above your own.  It is through that personal sacrifice that you not only become a good follower, but you set an example for others to do the same.

And ultimately if everyone on your team is sacrificing for each other, you create an amazing culture defined by treating others as more important.  A culture where you build and collaborate with empathy and you have humility AND intelligence. And all of these are key ingredients in building an innovative team.

Thanks for listening.  If you’ve gotten value out of this video or you have some other things that YOU have seen that makes a good follower that I didn’t hit on, I’d love to hear them.  Like and comment. Thanks and God bless.

Want more on creating a culture of innovation – listen to this Ask an Innovator episode that explores just that.

Recommended Readings on Being a Good Follower:

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