Create communities of practice in support of innovation – and don’t ask for permission to do so! Rather, direct your energy to creating communities of practice that are charged with building sufficient evidence for their idea(s) via experimentation. Do this by engaging individuals who are passionate about the idea – better yet, who have ideas of their own they are passionate about. Use a participatory leadership style and provide boundary conditions to create a sense of empowerment. Manage change and provide support to create a sense of efficacy. Interact with the communities of practice to experience, learn, and progress – listen to their needs and connect them to others who may be of benefit to their purpose.
I propose that the benefits are numerous: distributed leadership via the leadership that emerges through the communities of practice; increased learning, knowledge-sharing, change management, and innovation; more engaged employees; and the potential to open the eyes of formal leaders to the need to adopt a new paradigm.