How to Humbly Lead Toward Innovation

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This RightNow training post, in partnership with the Soderquist Center, features Tom Verdery, the Center's Executive in Residence. After 34 years of experience with Proctor and Gamble, he now teaches leadership strategies to younger executives. In this training post, he describes three areas in which a humble leader can free his people to innovate and succeed.

In this first clip, Tom explains that good leaders do not avoid conflict. Rather, they take potentially hazardous conflict situations and establish a productive approach to encountering these disagreements.



Good leaders establish productive conflict by looking for win-win situations. This happens when the different sides of an argument understand that it doesn't matter who is right, but what is right.

How does your organization normally handle conflict? Avoidance? Whatever the boss says? Anger? Healthy discussion? What have you been challenged to change because of Tom's advice?
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What are some practical things you can do and say to set the tone for productive conflict in your organization?
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What positive change do you expect to see in the employees of your organization once this type of healthy conflict management is an established norm?
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If your organization engages in positive conflict according to Tom's model, some of your people are bound to come up with some great ideas. When they do, they need to know that failure is an acceptable part of the process. In this next video, he encourages freedom for failure so that people will feel the freedom to risk.



Failures are not the opposite of success. As a young man, when Tom was recognized for his risk, even though he failed, it made a great positive difference in the culture of Proctor and Gamble.

How can your organization integrate failure into the process, and how will you make certain that everyone knows this standard?
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How much risk are you willing to allow for your workers and employees? At what point do you draw the line when a risk that is not worth the potential downside?
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Tom said that a good leader will encourage risk taking with resources, time, money and choices. What will you specifically do to support your people to take smart risks for your organization?
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When an organization promotes risk taking, it will inevitably encounter failure. LikeTom said in the last clip, this failure should be part of the process, but how do strong leaders present the news of failures and successes to their organizations? In this last clip, Tom shares his insight concerning credit and blame.



Great leaders share the credit and take the blame. The willingness to do these two things sets the humble leader apart from the selfish one, and establishes great trust with his followers.

How are you doing at sharing credit? Do you make sure that your workers get the recognition they deserve? Do you ever take more than you deserve?
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How are you doing at taking blame? Do you look for opportunities to encourage your people by sharing the burden of failure? Have you ever let others take the fall for a failure that you might have had a hand in?
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A humble leader looks for win-win situations when conflict arises, rather than demanding that everyone only obey. A humble leader encourages risk taking and accepts failure, rather than dictating every step and demanding perfection. A humble leader accepts the blame and shares the credit, rather than crafting other's perception to boost his ego.

Do all of these things in your position of leadership, and you're people will fearlessly innovate and work to their greatest potential.


For more great content from the Soderquist Leadership, visit their website, here