How finding your gamechanger can accelerate your growth

Here’s how an unexpected gamechanger can take your business to the next level.

In these changing, challenging and ever-more competitive times, innovation is becoming an increasingly precious commodity.
Business leaders polled in PwC’s 20th CEO Survey underlined its importance, rating innovation, alongside creativity, as one of the key areas in driving their business forward and keeping ahead of the competition.
And yet at a time when the spirit of entrepreneurialism is being encouraged and celebrated, the same CEOs also identified innovation as one of the hardest qualities to find. So why are businesses failing to locate and tap into the abundance of innovation around them?
Delve into the conundrum a bit deeper, and it becomes apparent that businesses are not necessarily looking for it in the right places. A recent study by Accenture highlighted the positive news that 75% of employees perceive themselves as entrepreneurial. However, the same report also highlighted that 75% of entrepreneurs leave big companies because they feel they can’t be entrepreneurial enough.

This is a real missed opportunity. Harnessing the dormant energies and talents of knowledgeable employees can be truly transformative. Businesses, therefore, need to place much greater attention on identifying the talent already available to them and implementing structures that unlock the flow of innovative ideas throughout the business from wherever they may come.

But look carefully. Within this talent pool there are people who can often be overlooked but who have real potential when it comes to encouraging the flow of innovation into the business. These are the gamechangers. They might not be the loudest voice in the room, they might currently feel shackled by excessive structural strangleholds on their creativity or even suppressed by a company culture of ‘innovation is for the innovators’ but businesses need to be sensitive to these barriers and then follow the breadcrumbs to identify them.

While job titles and corporate hierarchies won’t necessarily shine a light on their identity, there are clues in the character of a gamechanger. They exhibit the professional personality traits needed to inspire unexpected growth, and they are highly solution-orientated and prepared to take unconventional steps in order to bring those solutions to life. They are the ones who aren’t afraid to strongly challenge the consensus in the room whilst managing to retain the respect of colleagues.

Taking it further, they possess the functional skills to go beyond the great ideas. One of the most prominent skills a gamechanger has is a killer instinct to network, being skilled in the art of persuasion and able to walk into and ‘work’ a room. This means that they are able to navigate their organisation brilliantly, recruiting support and backing from the right people in the business to give their game changing ideas the best chance of getting off the ground.

Most crucially of all, the gamechangers are the ones who don’t let pay grades prevent them from leading from the front and galvanising support from both superior and junior colleagues in the process. They make diplomatic leadership an art form and inspire confidence in their colleagues to take a leap of faith in their innovative idea, convincing others that the opportunity outweighs the perceived risk. More than that, they have the drive to deliver it.

Once a gamechanger has been identified through the unique skills he or she offers, their potential must be structured, but not restricted, to ensure they fit into, support and align with the business objectives and goals. It’s then important to nurture, train and guide them into being able to thrive and eke out their full potential.

Google, one of the most innovative companies in the world, has amassed an army of gamechangers by famously allocating 20% of employees’ time to embark on whichever projects they want outside of their regular work. Evidence that, while innovation can be found outside of the business, there are rich rewards if you can unlock the innovation right under your nose.

Shilen Patel is th CEO and co-founder of Independents United​.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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