Key Characteristics of Innovators

What are the qualities that are the antecedents to some people being highly innovative? It’s an interesting question. At some point, we all have admired and even wanted to be the innovator—the one who comes up with the ideas. An innovator is a person who delivers new value to the world around them, seeing opportunities and acting on them.

What are the characteristics of innovators? What actually prompts these people to break out and see the world in new and fresh ways. Where do they get the courage to try something new…even if it doesn’t work 99 times before?

No matter the role, great innovators share some fundamental qualities or characteristics. Suppose you’re looking to become a great innovator or find awesome innovators on your team. In that case, these are the qualities you need to develop in yourself and others.

Willingness to Explore

It all starts with a willingness to consider something different. To be open to the idea, there might be another way. Innovators aren’t firmly attached to an idea in the beginning. They can postpone their fixation on an idea and stay open to exploring different possible directions. When they find the one they think has the most promise, they focus on the single option.

Engage in Continuous Reflection

Innovators are open to questioning their ideas and the direction of the project. They are apt at noticing new pieces of information that are potentially important…like a radar, endlessly scanning the environment. They thrive on adapting to additional knowledge.

Be Willing to Change Direction

Innovators see the value in stopping repetitive behaviour that doesn’t work and start looking for better methods and options. They tend to find new approaches to achieve the next level of goals being set.

Love being Surrounded by an Innovative Community

There is a definite burst of innovation and creativity that results from bringing great people together from various fields. Many innovations are often ideas or approaches borrowed from one discipline and applied to another. Being willing to expose yourself to new and diverse areas can profoundly impact discovering an innovative approach.

The achievement of this community relies on an environment of mutual trust. Having collaborative relationships within the group and being highly accessible. This community will never punish collaborators for being honest and having well-intended mistakes.

Have courage

Innovation isn’t about luck. It’s about pursuing problems and being prepared to try something different. Innovators will step out of their comfort zone and face the risk of refusal and failure. This is hard and leads us directly to another quality…intellectual humility.

Willingness to show Intellectual humility

Innovators show humbleness in the face of new information. They are open to learning by acknowledging the limits. It also allows for the innovator to openly share feedback that is at the time discouraging. They see the benefit it brings in opening up new avenues to alternative solutions.

Positive Adaptation to Adversity

By questioning the problem and turning it into an asset, innovators find solutions to the original problem and opportunities in other areas. These individuals can see several possible routes and set up experiments to determine which is the best solution.

Quick Action Orientated

Innovative people have the drive and consistency to work towards their goals. Consistency over time gets them surprisingly far. But even more exciting is the speed at which they are willing to take action. They can shift from intellectual work to practical ideas quickly.

Innovators can keep their actions small, fast, and focused. This produces action that is swift and gives the innovator the quickest way forward.

Display Mental Resilience

People who have mental resilience can take in new information in negative feedback and mistakes and accept it constructively and remain operational. They don’t flatten and lose interest. This also helps them let go of an idea once proven unsuccessful and continue to explore other solutions.

Extract and Implement Learning

Innovators can pay attention to unexpected information or events that happen and meaningful comments. They then implement the knowledge back into the project to adapt the idea and allow it to evolve.

Being an innovator means more than coming across a great idea and acting on it. Day to day, innovators encourage risk-taking, mentor others, collaborate, and build teams. And they do this well because they are willing to take action on their ideas.

Remember, it starts with being curious and learning new ways to deal with challenges. Then have the courage to share your suggestions with those around you. Innovators rarely deliver their ideas by themselves. They grow from a collective of excellent collaborators that can move the idea forward.

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