Leadership Philosophy for Leading Innovative Teams



Innovative companies are responding to the digital market environment by changing their traditional roles or adding other roles that have a digital focus. Despite the increase of digital roles as well as responsibilities, the executives of the XYZ Company have realized that the firm continues to lose its market share. It appears the organization had not prepared for the industry disruptions that emerge from digital trends. XYZ had the idea that a cross-functional team was the best mechanism to use in responding to the changing market needs. This paper will describe transformational leadership and also give the limitations of a cross-functional team as well as a flat structure. It will also explore the merging approaches to leadership and how transformative leaders can use the concepts. This paper will finally develop a leadership philosophy that XYZ Company can use for the success of its innovations. Ultimately, it presents a conclusion of the main findings.

Why transformational change may not result in innovation

Transformational problems are the most critical issues an organization may face. The challenges relate to culture, behavior, and attitudes, which are rooted in the firm and can be difficult to pinpoint unless the management conducts a deep analysis. A transformational leader is a facilitator, meaning he or she facilitates decisions and strategic plans of other employees. The main responsibility of such a leader is to facilitate numerous conversations between key stakeholders (Katzenbach & Smith, 2015). As a consequence, it appears that a transformational leader may have a vision but cannot execute it since they have no way to deal with transformative issues. In fact, they have a generalized vision of a common goal that involves taking care of all the interests of the stakeholders. Arguably, the main challenge for transformational leaders is that they do not always know how things will wind up, the only hope that the company will be in a better place than the way it was before. But, each leadership style has a place and time. 

Leaders are responsible for assembling teams and guide them to optimal performance. Therefore, an effective leader needs to recognize the magnitude of embracing the differences in employees and use them to get the best organizational outcomes. Fundamentally, leaders have to cultivate an environment that allows continuous improvements, initiative, and innovations (Gaziulusoy & Twomey, 2014). It is the responsibility of the leaders to foster a dedication from the teams to have an innovation mindset. However, innovation does not depend on the participation of top management, but it highly requires the involvement of employees, who understand the needs of the customers. Employees analyze their competitors and also recognize the evolution of brands, industries in addition to technology. Employees are the innovators, who see, create and share opportunities. 

Innovation occurs when the leader has a team that understands the marketplace and the changes happening. Most companies and their management may claim to know about most of the innovations taking place throughout the world. Nevertheless, few of them take the needed actions to make the best investments in resources and people. Therefore it is not about just understanding the dynamics, and innovations require actions to ideas into full bloom.  Transformational leadership requires the leader to break down on old rules and create new ones. It means that XYZ should have changed its cross-functional as well as flat structures to allow more participation in innovations. The structure has to enable each member of the teams to become transparent and trust each other. The trust allows the members to be patient, listen to each other and be grateful for every contribution resulting in diverse perspectives and new working relationships. 

Cross-functional teams

Hierarchical organizations experience difficulty when reacting fast to market opportunities and changes. It is one factor that impedes the survival of the company in the long run. In such cases, most organizations distribute the responsibilities of their managers in a cross-functional team, and the boards use a flatter structure to increase their agility. Most companies use cross-functional teams to use the different perspectives and also backgrounds of an assortment of employees.  The employees are from different areas of work creating a group of members with different skills, talents, and educational backgrounds.  The diversity of the group is vital since it allows the group to share skills and ideas to attain the objective of the team (Thomas & Inkson, 2017). However, cross-functional teams may get into conflicts when evaluating a problem because of the lack of understanding the viewpoint of other members. On the other hand, it may also be difficult to manage a cross-functional team. The team members have different responsibilities thus create scheduling difficulties. The firm can experience management difficulty if a leader does act in liaison with other members to ensure the tools and resources meet the objective of the business

The XYZ Company used the structure to improve integration and coordination, reduce the time for production cycle and span organizational boundaries. The idea of creating cohesion among people, especially from the various disciplines improves problem-solving and enhances decision making in the company.  XYZ felt that a spirit of cooperation would have made it easier to attain customer satisfaction as well as corporate goals, which appeared not to happen. However, most aligned organizations are less successful in incorporating a cross-functional structure. The organization has a flat structure that The XYZ Company needs to embrace a digital congruence that involves people, culture, tasks, and structures all aligns together with the company strategy and also the problems of a constantly changing digital landscape.  

Flatter Organizational Structure

Companies that employ a flat organizational structure make better use of their employee’s skills and knowledge.  A flatter structure fosters greater communication between the workforce than the tall ones. Employee morale is enhanced, and in particular for those who are high achievers. A company that uses a flat structure has less bureaucracy due to fewer tiers. In essence, such a company can make quick decisions. Nonetheless, such a structure may require employees to report to numerous bosses. More so, departmental roles may be unformulated. In reality, flatter organizational structure needs to move into a taller structure for the company to grow. A flat organization produces more generalists than specialists, thus may limit long-term growth of the company. In some instances, the management may decide against innovations or opportunities because they want to maintain the structure. 

Transformational motivations

Transformative leaders should motivate subordinates to evaluate the known resolutions and stop applying the old strategies to new problems. To develop a culturally competent worker and leaders, it involves understanding, relationships, and education.  Employees must first acquire knowledge of behaviors, culture, and beliefs of another culture. Then maintain a cross-cultural awareness on being open to attitudes of other cultures.  The last stage represents the understanding of the cultural difference by being sensitive to intercultural conflicts that may arise (Box, Converso, & Osayamwen, 2015). However, some managers feel differently about using cultural intelligence by combining it with transformational leadership. 

Cultural intelligence entails an individual’s ability to function efficiently in an environment with cultural differences. Cultural intelligence can predict the outcomes in the market. Personnel with a high cultural intelligence make better choices when faced with an intercultural situation.  They work better in a cross-cultural negotiation and tend to form culturally diverse social networks. These employees experience less burnout in a culturally diverse environment than their counterparts. Emotional intelligence is equally important because it includes the capabilities that enhance effective interpersonal interactions. Besides, emotional intelligence focuses on distinguishing and regulating the emotions of others (Center for Creative Leadership, 2017). The transformative leaders should know that cultural intelligence is beyond an academic construct and is a practical framework. 

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Power Relations and Conflicts

Power is one’s ability to impact the behavior of others through knowledge, authority or personality. Power does reflect on the esteem that others regard the leader. A leader knows he or she has power and has to assess it and realistically be willing to risk their esteem to influence others (Eze & Umar, 2014). The leader must therefore act and at the same time get results. If the leader fails in either, it means attrition is occurring to their power due to a proportion of doubt that other people have on them. 

Organizational conflict is essential, and it occurs when individuals or groups have opposing ideas, philosophies, goals, and orientations. Conflict is part of the natural phenomenon, and no organization can avoid it. Business must appreciate the value of conflict because it relates to their performance. A great leader recognizes that conflict solving and collaborative problem-solving skills are essential in providing motivation and dedication to employees. Though conflict, the workforce develop an understanding of the dynamics of negotiation as well as dispute resolution as a success to their leadership roles. 

A leadership philosophy for leading innovation

Despite XYZ having huge investments of money and time, it did not succeed in innovation, and it remains a frustrating pursuit. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that it is difficult to build and also maintain the competence to innovate. The problem is rooted in the company’s lacking an innovation strategy. The strategy has to comprise a set of mutually; coherent and also reinforcing policies intended to attain specific competitive goals (Guenzi & Ruta, 2013). A good strategy enhances alignments among diverse groups in the firm. It also helps in clarifying priorities and objectives also helping focus efforts.  Most companies define their scope and positioning and specify their various functions. However, it appears that they hardly ever articulate strategies that will align the business plan with their innovative efforts. The organization needs to have the capacity for innovation through a system that has a set of interdependent structures and processes that dictate the manner the firm would search for novel problems and their possible solutions (Sajjadi, 2014).  

XYZ should use supportive leadership in their innovation reason being; their employees look upon leaders to offer direction. Besides, employees emulate the behaviors and attitudes of their leaders. To be specific, leaders have a pivotal role in presenting a positive attitude to new approaches as well as ideas. The leaders have to ensure new ideas receive attention, the needed resources and have the right staff, all of which enhance innovation success (Pisano, 2015). XYZ can use supportive leadership to support research and projects. Projects are likely to do well when they receive support from the top management. In this case, the top management has to link innovation with the company’s mission and strategies.  Leaders can ensure that change is the central focus making it part of the company’s culture and among the forefront activities of the firm. Supportive leaders encourage employees to develop new ideas and also be creative. Most of all when innovation is brought at a strategic level, the workforce is motivated to innovate, encouraging them to view innovation as part of their work (Baxter, 2013). Employees may feel they lack training, resources, and equipment to work efficiently. Supportive leaders should come in and act as a bridge to gaps between the team and success.


Overall, XYZ Company requires leaders that demonstrate a positive attitude, new approaches, and ideas. Best leaders recognize that innovation comes from multiple sources both internally and externally. Therefore, the organizational structure has to enable people with their different points of view to converge and create innovations that one person could not have managed to create. Intrinsically, XYZ needs to be invigorated to become a company that inspires evolution to propel its leadership, as well as employees to engage in innovative opportunities.  The leaders have to be ready to remove obstacles and also clear red tape to make sure projects get resources, attention, and staff needed.  Besides, the leaders have to connect innovation to the institution’s strategies and missions. They also have to neutralize negativity by creating an environment that is tolerant of risks and failure. And most of all celebrate innovation efforts as well as successes. 

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