When making the transition from entrepreneur to large company executive, I was introduced to the concept of Clarity, Confidence and Commitment as the three C’s of leadership and human capital management essential for successful strategy implementation within an organization. The message was that clarity in communicating strategy inspires confidence in both the individual employees (empowering them to do their job) and in the employees’ view of leadership both of which encourage a commitment on the part of the employees to engage in the strategic objectives defined by leadership.
This is an important leadership challenge within any organization; however, gaining commitment for innovation within a large company can present additional challenges. Innovation in any size company ultimately requires that you do something differently than you have done before. The larger an organization gets, the more success it has typically experienced and the more institutionalized is the way of doing things that led to this success. As a consequence, by accident, innovation can be self-corrected right out of a well-run organization. This unhappy accident can look to employees like a lack of organizational commitment to the strategy that they had bought into.
Understanding how your organization’s attributes help or hinder a particular innovation activity or what capabilities must be developed to support it are critical to developing a successful plan of execution. Clarity is essential to drive confidence and commitment; however, commitment must not just be a characteristic of the innovation team but also of stakeholders throughout the organization, including leadership. Sometimes this clarity must come from lower in the organization and drive confidence and commitment back up. At some point in every innovation project the innovation team must take the leadership role in driving commitment back up through the organization by justifying a project specific plan of execution which outlines what must be done differently to succeed.
The three C’s are a key to innovative leadership from anywhere within an organization. Subsequent discussions will explore how you discover clarity and gain confidence and commitment.