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Every Great Leader Is An Inventor

The Inventor’s Hat

Whether you’re the CEO or an entrepreneur, one thing is always clear. You’ve got a lot of hats to wear. Out of all those hats, there’s one that defines the core of what leadership really is.

That’s right, you’re an inventor.

As an inventor you craft a vision, and then you make it happen. You might be doing all the heavy lifting yourself or you might be directing the execution of your vision. But that’s just a matter of scale.

The reason that a leader has to be an inventor is because it’s your job to define what it is you do as a company and how you do it. You’re writing the playbook. You’re mixing the formula.

Inventing Is In The ‘How’ You Do It

Whether you’re reacting to find a solution to a problem, or taking action to venture into new territory; what makes it unique, is how you do it. Anything you can do can always be done better. How much better, depends on how inventive you get.

Innovation is the key. Innovation is what differentiates you in the market. It’s not the fact that you cut costs, raised income or brought in new revenue streams that’s important. That’s business 101. It’s how you did it. And that, is vision.

That’s inventing.

Sure. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. To build a good solid business, all you have to do is follow the “best practices” of business, right? Yes. And that’s leadership. Nothing wrong with it. But vision. Inventing. That’s not just leadership, it’s great leadership.

What Great Inventing Achieves

There are 2 things you want to acheive when you put your inventing hat on:

  1. Solve fundamental problems. There are a lot of short-term bandaid solutions to problems that become long term crutches. This happens when you treat the symptom of the problem instead of finding a cure for the actual problem. Great inventing gets to the root of a problem and solves it without creating new problems.
  2. Change the way the people do things. And for the better. You’re making the act of doing something better, faster, smarter, easier, cooler. The results of great inventing are best described with words that end in “er”.

The thing is, when you’re not inventing, you’re following what someone else already invented. And you get what they got out of it. No more, no less.

Inventing is your best chance to create zoom. To get more out of something. To take it further, faster. And create amazing solutions that change the way people do things. It takes creativity. It takes vision.

But hey, somebody has to invent this stuff.

Denouement
 

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10 Comments

  1. When I started reading this article, I thought you were crazy but your arguments have completely won me over!

    A great read.

    - Martin Reed

  2. Haha. Thanks Martin!

    Sometimes I think I’m crazy too! But crazy people don’t believe that they’re crazy. As soon as I remember that, I always realize that I couldn’t possibly be crazy!

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Great read Shane.

    At the end when you say following what someone else already invented – Look at it this way…Most people imitate what someone’s already accomplished, but how they become successful is by adding their own feature or unique touch, say for example a product. For example, we’ll use Digg. There’s many sites out there using Digg’s initial idea where users vote which articles are best and have become successful, but aren’t exactly the same.

    -Gregg

  4. That’s a good point Gregg,

    The successful people that follow a popular idea just grab the basic framework, and with a fresh canvas, they paint a new picture.

  5. Quite true.
    The company I work for was founded by an inventor who did not want to carry on with the family business / fortune. Along his career he conceptualized, created, developed, sold a handful of diverse and hugely successful companies all with innovative and industry changing technology.

    He just recently died and despite his advanced age of 90+ he was still engineering new ideas to the end.

  6. Shane,

    You are absolutely right. Not only must you be a pioneer, you must be a pioneer in whatever niche or industry you’re working in. Way to go!

    – Scot

  7. Hey PB,

    That’s a great story. I wonder if having that fortune behind him (just in case), spurred him on to take greater risks then most would. It’s great that that he never lost his passion – that probably contributed to the long life he had.

    Scot,

    Yeah, it’s important to do things differently if you want different results. Better results than what’s been done before. And even a little pioneering here and there on the little things helps a lot.

    A lot of it is just thinking outside the box.

  8. [...] been thinking about the different hats that leaders and entrepreneurs have to wear lately. Like the inventors hat, there are a lot of important hats. And this one just might the most important of all. [...]

  9. [...] Legaignoux brothers. Any business can build a railway. You just need to recognize what people need, be innovative, and set the standards in your niche, local market, or [...]

  10. [...] a company or an organization. Some of the others I’ve talked about are the dunce cap and the inventor’s hat. The key thing to remember is that every hat is just as important as every other one. And the real [...]


 

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