Innovation & Gumption

Innovation is a "must do" these days. Hard to innovate if your culture doesn't support it.

How can you tell if your culture likes innovation?

One key ingredient is gumption. Kevin Leahy (mind athlete coach) defines gumption as will + intent + belief.

Here's a look at each of those three ingredients as elements of culture.

Will refers to desire that drives action. In a culture with strong will, there is a sense of motion, of getting things done. The urge to act trumps the fear of getting it wrong if your culture has will.

If your culture has intent, people know what the team is about, what you will accomplish together. If your organization has strong collective intent, shared goals trump individual agendas and personal wants.

A culture with belief means people know they can get the job done. They believe they have what it takes to succeed together. Believing in the impossible comes naturally in a culture with strong belief.

Will + Intent + Belief = Gumption

How does gumption support innovation?

Without gumption, fear of mistakes can block innovation. If you jump out there with your idea before it's been perfected, you could be wrong. It takes gumption to jump out there anyway. But if you don't, innovation will happen slowly if at all. It's also a risk to point out the flaws in your colleagues' ideas. That could create conflict and most of us don't like conflict. However, without taking that risk, you'll let the wrong ideas carry the day. It takes gumption to speak your mind.

Individual gumption is great and it will carry you far. And, if your culture has gumption, that means the organization is gumption-prone. Organizations with gumption innovate and win.

To build gumption into your culture, there are four things you need to do. First, hire folks with gumption. Second, reward demonstrations of gumption. Third, coach those who don't show gumption when it's needed. And most of all, show your gumption as a leader. Strengthen gumption and you'll get more innovation.

Finding more Gumption

Think about a recent time when you showed your gumption. Write about what drove you to do that and what the experience was like for you. Did you come from a place of positive intent and belief in shared success or did you wait till anger and frustration drove you? How might you have used your gumption even more effectively?

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