The Top 6 Traits of Great Innovators

Powerful innovation is at the heart of all successful organisations. This article identifies the key traits to look for when it comes to identifying an innovator.

Powerful innovation is at the heart of all successful organisations. Apple is probably the world’s most influential innovator, and since the passing of Steve Jobs, they’ve kept an incredible creative culture and became the first company worth a staggering $2 trillion in 2020.

Innovation needs to be part of your organisation’s culture. Of course, it’s great to have open-minded leaders and creative product designers, but in order to constantly be moving forward, this culture needs to spread throughout the entire organisation.

Although 84% of executives suggest innovation is crucial to growth strategy, only 6%  are happy with their improvement efforts. Millions of organisations fail to build a culture of innovation, and it prevents them from growing to the next level.

When it comes to identifying an innovator, here are the key traits to look for:

1. They Push Past Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom is important in business and it’s often an excellent guideline on finding success. But, on the contrary, conventional wisdom is often the enemy of innovation. For example, so-called experts told Elon Musk that Tesla would never be successful because the electric car market could never compete with conventional cars. Tesla’s market cap reached $1 trillion in 2021. 

If your organisation is going to innovate, it will have to think outside the box and face doubters. The corporate world does have its conventions, but as the world’s most progressive organisations prove, thinking differently often adds value to the market.

2. Innovators Encourage Risk-Taking

From our childhood days, we’re often programmed to avoid risk. Innovators, however, encourage risk-taking across the board and will encourage new ideas and learning from failure. The leader will see it as an opportunity for growth instead of a terrible mistake that should be avoided at all costs.

3. Great Innovators Value a Culture of Innovation

Innovation doesn’t come from one individual and every organisation can build a culture of innovation through successfully implementing the following methods:

  • Creating a strong innovative philosophy
  • Encouraging failure
  • Having a strong communication strategy
  • Having robust employee evaluations and feedback
  • Using goals and rewards to incentivise
  • Utilising technology to make it easy for employees to capture ideas and create innovation challenges

Failing to build a culture of innovation can negatively affect an organisations’ employee morale, bottom line, and future. 

4. The Greatest Innovators Have Passion

The world’s greatest innovators are extremely passionate about their products or services. For the most part, money isn’t the overall motivator. Instead, a desire to solve a problem and leave a legacy is often their main driver.

Also, great innovators are experts at communicating their passion with their team members. It’s excellent having a strong passion, but if you can’t spread the passion throughout the team, the passion doesn’t live up to its potential. Did you know, 59% of UK workers are thinking about leaving their jobs? Innovation is impossible without a love for the profession.

As with any successful venture, they face roadblocks along the way. However, it’s the passion and love for their craft that pushes them through hard times. Great innovators understand hard times are a by-product of fruitful results.

5. A Patient Mindset

The world’s top innovators have a strong level of patience. They understand — through years of experience — that wonderful creativity takes time. Rushing ideas will leave the product or service with various flaws.

 What’s more, great innovators will research their ideas, tweak their ideas, and finally share their ideas. It’s a time-consuming process, but a critical process. Some leaders get frustrated with long development times, and 42% of organisations struggle to innovate due to the lengthy process of capturing and implementing ideas.

The greatest innovators balance creativity and deadlines with equal measure and come up with new products, services and solutions to beat the competition.

 6. Successful Innovators Simply Don’t Give Up

It’s easy to give up when you’re an innovator. Could you possibly imagine how many would-be successful entrepreneurs quit during the idea stage? The list would be endless. After all, science suggests 92% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions each year.

But the difference between the great innovators is they kept working on their concept even when the world stacked the odds against them. Walt Disney endured years of rejection before he created Disney, Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before successfully creating the light bulb and countless book publishers rejected J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novel before she became the most successful author of all time.

 People with unique and creative ideas don’t give up. The most incredible leaders understand that innovation requires determination, patience, and the desire to keep going when challenges arise. 

Final thoughts

The greatest innovators of the world are mavericks of change,  visionaries, risk-takers, and robust leaders. They continually show the ability to communicate their vision and build some of the world’s largest organisations. However, anyone can be an innovator in some way and every idea, big or small, has the power to impact change within an organisation. 

At SimplyDo, we help organisations spark innovation by providing the framework to capture, prioritise and action great ideas. Our intuitive online platform makes idea generation and prioritisation easy - even for the largest of organisations. 


Find out more about how we can help you, here.

Joseph Murphy
Head of Growth