Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Glenford Smith | The path to innovative leadership

Published:Sunday | November 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: I was going through the newspaper of October 4, 2017, and saw your article titled "Develop your own career curriculum". I must commend the knowledge provided by it, which I think is quite advantageous for professional development. I'm a 21-year-old student of UWI who is striving to be an innovator. I am currently pursuing a BSc in Mathematics with Education but love to do interdisciplinary work, especially in leadership. I, therefore, seek advice as to how I may go about effectively impacting the scope of leadership in Jamaica and, by extension, the region.

- Shaun-Dale

CAREERS: Thank you very much for your letter and your words of commendation.

You seem to already know what your aim is, which is very good. The area of leadership is a wide one in Jamaica and the region, but at every stratum of society, we can use innovative leadership. This is an exciting prospect.

To have an impact on leadership in any arena in Jamaica, select a specific area and focus your attention there. For an example, we will use, say, education.

You are in school, where you have access to lecturers and instructors. Use the experience to identify a demographic that you will find it most profitable and enjoyable to serve. For example, you might want to serve toddlers, teenagers, adults, women, men, and so on.

You will need to determine the specific area of difference you wish to make for that demographic. Many people make the mistake of trying to identify which area they think their demographic is interested in by using their intuition or some other method in which they try to guess at it.

In the end, the only way to know what interests people have is to ask the people themselves. You can set up a survey and administer it among your student body and assess the results. This is just one idea.

Whatever the result, use it to interact with the target group until you can identify a value proposition for them. It may not happen immediately, so you will have to develop patience as you iterate one idea to another. Just note that a constant has to be keeping in touch with your demographic. this is key as they indicate where you are by their interest.

Just because you are a student, don't think that you have to wait until you've completed your course to begin making a difference, which is what leadership is all about. You can start making a difference in the lives of the people within your target demographic while you're still in school.

Michael Dell was in school when he was imbued with the idea of putting a personal computer on every desk. With constant information from his customers, and them putting in their orders, he was able to undersell the market and make a big difference for his demographic and a huge profit in the process.

Becoming an innovative leader requires vision, focus, and determination. In the information and technological age, you can make it work. You have innovative leaders around the world that you can access through YouTube, books, and recordings. All the best to you.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.