The Innovator – Implementer Communication Gap

Hug an EccentricEngaging entrepreneurial[i] innovators in a discussion about creative personality characteristics is fascinating and high-energy.  This is in part because at their extreme, those characteristics can be confounding to the people in their lives who are not similarly ‘wired’…frequently leading to mystified colleagues and implementation failures.

Colleagues often don’t ‘get’ the innovator, and in extreme cases, may begin to mistrust and even dislike them. This is especially true for people who work with entrepreneurial innovators – the start-up/ change agent types who are both highly creative and driven. Running full-out to achieve a vision that is crystal clear in their minds, they often believe that others can see it too … when in fact, colleagues often have a hazy view – at best.

These differences can have a disastrous financial impact if not managed well. Personality and communication differences are at the heart of many a break-up of founder and funder – and of leader and employee.

Many entrepreneurial leaders have learned the hard way that their communications are often far from clear. A common tendency is to ‘think out loud’ – to share the latest inspiration for a new product or a new way of doing things, without a clear explanation of where they are in the process or what if any action is expected as a result.

Entrepreneurial leaders are also often unaware of the complexity of implementation. Because they can clearly see the vision, they believe other people have the same clarity – and the ability to flawlessly implement. The result can be a series of implementation fits and starts, which delay or even derail operationalizing a new product or innovation. If unresolved, the future of the enterprise can be at risk.

Imagine the frustration when:

  • employees are confused and anxious because new ‘urgent, high-priority” deliverables are added almost daily to an already overwhelming workload –  with no discussion of relative priority.
  • a critical implementation is continuously delayed amidst frequent process changes, lack of accountability and infighting

Unless the leader develops self-awareness and an understanding of their own leadership communication and performance leadership gaps, a series of implementation ‘surprises’ are often the foundation for developing  lack of trust on both sides of the table. The all too common result:

  • a leader who responds by becoming a controlling micro-manager in an attempt to minimize unwelcome surprises
  • employees who become overwhelmed, anxious and often resentful.

The best employees often leave

Those who stay often contribute to declining performance and an increasingly toxic culture.

The solution begins with the realization that change must start with the leader. Developing self-awareness is accelerated by assessment and targeted feedback. Goal-setting, development and practice of new behaviors is best when guided by a coach who has a deep understanding of both the strengths and downside of the entrepreneurial personality.

More about innovators and entrepreneurs: Support Innovation. Hug an Eccentric

More about   Leadership Coaching.       Related posts:

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[i] the term ‘entrepreneurial’ doesn’t always refer to an entrepreneur in the sense of start-up business owner. Entrepreneurial is a personality style, often characterized by relatively high levels of intelligence, imagination and creativity, combined with drive and a bias for action.

copyright ©  2013. Marilou Myrick. Masters Among Us, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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