Open innovation should be a whole company attitude which includes top and bottom. It should be reflected in all types of leadership. Here are the main qualities of the open innovation leadership style:
Leader wants to listen more, not to be listened to more
There are two types of leaders: those who are listening and providing a service to the team, and those who expect the team to provide a service to them. To apply open innovation, leaders should try to practice listening and doing what team and customers want. Belief in own superiority and lack of trust towards the team and customers will not create an open culture.
Leader focuses on customer centric goals, instead of internal ones
Nothing kills innovation faster than focusing on internal goals like finance, legal, IT management, human resources, etc. A leader must reach these goals as well, but must always remain focused on customers. Leadership which focuses on internal goals only without considering customers will make the company less open, more focused on itself, and less competitive.
Leader takes risks, and gets better at taking them
Open innovation is a risk taking strategy. Opening up means going outside safety boundaries established by decades of errors. A leader which takes less risks is actually taking the biggest risk – not being open and not innovating. Open innovation leader will take risks and learn how to manage the team and customers through errors.
Leading teams through open innovation requires listening, customer focus, and taking risks. These skills can be learned easily if the leader is motivated.