Why Innovation is Important for Business Success

Why Innovation is Important for Business Success

With the complexity and uncertainty of business today, it is important that you encourage and develop the important “leadership attribute of innovation” in all levels of your team.

Many businesses talk about innovation, but only a few truly embrace it. Are you embracing the uncharted path of success that calls for moving forward where you have not yet been?

Why Does This Matter?

Making conscious choices by inspiring alternative considerations and options in your current business circumstances is KEY to SUCCESS TODAY!  Surfacing “unconscious habits” based on “how we have always done things” is important in order to truly address your current business needs.

You may face seemingly big challenges to your basic business plan for 2023. You need everyone on your team to be thinking about innovation in order to secure the positive opportunities inherent in those challenges. You can start today by supporting and developing your team to think in new ways as they perform their roles. Encourage their creative thinking by asking questions and inviting them to share their thoughts. Together you can create and continually foster a psychologically safe environment where innovative thinking can flourish.

Innovation- The Key Ingredient For Business Success

Innovation is defined as the introduction of something NEW; new ideas or methods in your business

There are four types of innovation to keep in mind for your business:

1.Research based: Consider the current external environment, what has changed? And will any of these changes impact your business plans? How should you respond? What new action is being called for in your business? (remember to think short and long-term).

2. Sustaining: this is anchored in solid “business thinking”—which includes, analysis of your business metrics, taking into consideration business cycles and trends, projections, and producing step by step actions based on current market trends. Allow this solid business thinking to inform and guide your choices so that you can stabilize the business and keep moving forward in positive ways.

3. Breakthrough: Expand your thinking by contemplating is this a “breakdown” or a “breakthrough”? As a team, when you surface what is not working as expected, look for the positive shifts you can make with the new information. Collectively, you can free yourself from crisis mode by developing a business growth mindset. By taking in real time circumstances, and embracing them for learning and growing, you create the space for amazing opportunities and innovation to emerge.  When you work together to incorporate the best information available at any given time, and are able to effectively shift your plans in response to what is happening, without derailing your long term vision, you have what it takes to be a sustainable and successful business.

4.  Disruptive: this may feel “high risk”, yet in some ways is the safest way to approach business actions in our current economic times.   What feels safe and familiar is based on what you experienced when your business was at an earlier stage of growth, and the external environment was more predictable. Disruptive Innovation calls for doing the “illogical or unexpected”—basically what is counterintuitive in your current business situation.  Calm your nerves and take calculated risks. What you know from the past is not necessarily what is needed for your current and future business success.

My team created an infographic to help you keep these different types of innovation top of mind. You can download it here.

The Path Forward

Leadership is all about achieving results through others. You have a part and the team has their part. When you harness your ability to think about your business together—seeking out emerging opportunities and harnessing all your good critical thinking to catch the wave of innovation, you have a winning approach.

Start today. Invite your team to share their thoughts from their perspective of your business. Is there anything they are thinking could be done differently and perhaps achieve better results? Take note.

This is Leadership! You’re doing it!


PS: We started a podcast! It’s called Leadership Is Calling. You can tune in here: https://leadingedgeteams.com/podcast

Or you can watch it over on YouTube: https://leadingedgeteams.com/YouTube



Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Supportive Listening: A Key Leadership Skill to Uplevel Your Business Today

Supportive Listening: A Key Leadership Skill to Uplevel Your Business Today

Are your plans and goals for 2023 being disrupted with unexpected results?  
In today’s economic environment you need your team’s best Supportive Listening for finding the opportunities within the current challenges to keep your business stable and forward moving.

What your business most needs from you is to be a Supportive Listener—to uplevel your team communication for the best strategic decisions and actions while the external environment is causing upheaval in your plans and expectations. Listening to one another is key for how best to listen to what your business results are calling you to do. What is most needed is to stay in business for the greater opportunities that will eventually come through this economic cycle.

Your business needs have shifted. What is called for is productive communication to determine the best initiatives in response to the change. Your business needs you and your team to be an excellent “think tank” for deciphering the impact to resolve and how best to keep your business and team healthy and active.

Let’s consider the difference between ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’. In practice, ‘hearing’ tends to be a mix of partially interacting in listening, while at the same time engaging in your own ‘thinking’ about the topic or what is being said.  Whereas for productive communication within your team, what is needed is for you to be fully present and engaged in listening to the thinking of the other person. It is not the time to add your own thinking!

Your part as a Supportive Listener is to position yourself in the conversation to best support the success of the other person who is sharing their thoughts, perspective and information. In this process you will find that the dynamic of mutual regard and interest in listening will be matched; to the degree you listen, you will be listened to. This matching will occur organically without being forced. Why do we care? Because your business needs the meeting of minds that share perspectives and add to one another’s thinking for the best strategic decisions.

Your Part as Supportive Listener
Listening is a skill that will take practice to develop. With these few simple steps you will experience the benefits from your very first try.

  • Anchor in your purpose for this conversation, the outcome you are going for and your intention for your part in support of productive communication.
  • Begin your conversation by taking a moment to connect before diving in. As a Supportive Listener you want to set your team members up for success in being able to share their thinking and point of view. You want them to have the experience of being recognized, appreciated and understood. Every conversation with your team is an opportunity to build trust and positive regard.  
  • As you move into the conversation, your part is to be open and curious while listening. Your thinking in this moment is to draw forth what the other person most wants you to know (not what you want to hear).
  • Use your thinking to observe with neutrality and utilize all of your senses. Check in on body language, speed and clarity of voice, is your team member able to stay on point, or do they seem nervous or losing their way? Your support may be to smile, to nod, to lean in or to lean out, to take a calming breath to slow the energy of the conversation, or to offer a pause to catch up with the thinking. Remember that as a Supportive Listener your part is to create the safety and opportunity for your team member to express their thinking and perspective at this point of the conversation. 
  •  Stay focused on what your team member is saying. Your thinking at this moment is to clarify that you have heard and understand what they are intending to convey. To do this you can paraphrase what you heard using their words as much as possible and / or repeat back the main points and allow them to respond to align for best understanding.
  • Pause to acknowledge in appreciation of your team member’s sharing. This pause deepens your connection and enhances the flow for collaborative and cooperative communication. Remember that it is hard to bring your ideas forward. Creating a safe place for your team members to do so within your professional relationship is an empowering part of your leadership role. 
  • It’s your turn to share! Yes, as a Supportive Listener you do have the opportunity to share your thinking based on what the conversation needs. Allow this shift to be an invitation to add your perspective and thoughts, or you may move into processing options for decision making or resolution. Anchor back to the purpose of this conversation, and lead the conversation in whatever way is most needed for that intention and outcome you are going for.

Your Supportive Listening is the most powerful way to lead your team for productive and fulfilling communication. Start practicing today!


PS: We started a podcast! It’s called Leadership Is Calling. You can tune in here: https://leadingedgeteams.com/podcast

Or you can watch it over on YouTube: https://leadingedgeteams.com/YouTube



Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Business Is Complex—Listen For Nuances To Improve Your Leadership Reputation

Business Is Complex—Listen For Nuances To Improve Your Leadership Reputation

As I learned from my CEO and business mentor, Annie Hyman Pratt, when a situation is easy, it is easy to show up well. It’s how you show up in the hardest moments that determines your leadership reputation.

In over half a decade working within entrepreneurial businesses, the one thing I have learned is that business is complex. It is not often that there are super simple clear-cut answers to the problems we are faced with as a team.

I wish it were simple. And if it were that simple there wouldn’t be a need for business coaches or training programs like the A Plus Leader Program, of which I am proudly the Program Director. As an executive coach, I am in the fortunate position to see the inner workings of a multitude of companies. This window into other organizations has shown me that imperfection often gives birth to successful innovation and that the bumpy parts contribute greatly to our overall success. Because of this, I can have deeper compassion for myself and my own team when things don’t go according to plan. I have learned to swim in the complexity and ride out the waves.

I have also seen that what happens within organizations is a microcosm of what is happening in the world at large. The way emotions can raise when stakes are high, how it is hard to take in someone else’s perspective that seems foreign to your own, the way it is easy to feel personally slighted when your idea is not chosen…these are just a few of the challenges that happen often in business and in an even larger way in the world beyond our computer screens and outside our windows.

To anchor me, when the storms brew, I thought I’d join the popular New Year trend of picking a word for the year. A word that helps me remember my commitment to being a force for positive change in these turbulent times and helps me stabilize when the waters get stormy.

My word for 2023 is nuance. Nuance is defined as a subtle difference in shade of meaning, expression or sound. Recently, I noticed how I put focused effort into better understanding someone if we both speak different languages. It requires my full attention, and I am listening to capture the fuller meaning beyond the words. I am considering all the nuances. I am open to the fact that nuances exist, so much more so than if I am speaking with someone who speaks my same language. In truth, I noticed I make assumptions of understanding too quickly often if we speak the same language. And unfortunately, I move even quicker with my assumptions when receiving the communications of others that I come into daily contact with; be it at home, work, or in my community. 

Here’s the biggest challenge: active listening is not the natural default human setting. We are hard-wired to be more focused on our own survival. Which in a modern-day business setting often means that we are most focused on having the best response. That is why, we must consciously choose to be intentional and practice active listening. 

What we long for is a sense of being heard and understood. Active listening, the type that listens with the intention to understand beyond the surface, is the paramount to the best collaborative thinking and problem-solving. It doesn’t matter to me if an idea I put forward doesn’t get chosen in a team meeting, but I noticed that what does matter to me is that my idea was heard, and others listened in hopes of understanding my vision. If that has occurred and it is not the right idea for the business at that point and time, no problem. I have also witnessed this being so for other business leaders.

Nuances lead us to greater understanding and therefore connection. When we listen for where we agree, we find more alignment. When we collaborate well within business, we seek out the ways our ideas build upon each other and give birth to a greater solution than any one mind would have found.

True leadership is knowing how to harness the power of the group think tank; actually, being excited that you have more than just your one brain to solve any given problem. I am so grateful to be a part of a team. And I want you to harness the joy and accomplishments that come from being on a team working together to achieve results, but please know it isn’t always easy, and that is good.

Daring to really hear and understand an idea that seems contrary to your own requires courage. Why does that other person have such a different perspective? If you listen for the nuances and choose to ask more questions of that person, often a valuable nugget is revealed. Perhaps the person’s solution is flawed, but why they are proposing the solution is because they can see a potential problem that others have missed. And now that potential problem has surfaced, and the negative impact is avoided because we work this new awareness into our overall solution. That is a big win. 

Will you join me and look for the nuance in 2023? Listen to understand. On the surface communication can be misleading. Sometimes we are saying the same thing, or agreeing more than we might realize, but all we really hear and focus on is what we disagree with because that so strongly jumps out at us. I invite you to silence the part of you that may feel an urge to be right or make someone else wrong. 

Don’t let the louder voices of the larger world, the ones that stir up our fear and keep us from really hearing one another dominate. If we do this, I believe that we can work together to turn the tide. Remember, being a human is challenging. And being in business is complex. We will face many challenges in the year ahead, but we never lose the ability to choose how we show up.

Remember, life is filled with nuance…get curious and show up. Leadership is calling!

You’ve got this!


PS: We started a podcast! It’s called Leadership Is Calling. You can watch it over on YouTube: https://leadingedgeteams.com/YouTube

Or you can tune in here: https://leadingedgeteams.com/podcast



Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Learn How to Partner with Your Team

Learn How to Partner with Your Team

In 1995 when I was CEO of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the height of our rapid expansion, I was in the middle of scrambling to remodel stores, open a new store every month, while simultaneously attempting to resolve our staffing and efficiency issues! It was a lot to say the least AND training new team members was a major investment in time and resources, and if an employee stayed only a short time, the entire staff felt the impact. This often turned into a cycle of overworking the trained people to the point of burnout, because there just weren’t enough of them! 

And, because our growth was mostly fueled by traditional bank borrowing, if we put money into stores that performed poorly, our entire growth plan could collapse, and then we’d have trouble paying our debts.

The slew of new (and stressful!) pressures made the company like a bucking bronco—so I dug in my boots the only way I knew how: adopting my dad’s top-down management style. All these years later, I can laugh and admit that I am a “recovered micromanager.” But back then, I wouldn’t listen to my team. My management style forced store managers to wait on me and my decisions, when they should have been presenting their solutions to the issues that they were dealing with on the ground. Instead of asking, “What do our stores need?” their default was, “What does Annie want?” 

I vividly remember the gut-wrenching day I realized I had to change. My HR manager and I had a major disagreement about management staffing, and while storming out the door, she didn’t mince words about me and the “ivory tower” she felt I lived in (spicing in language that I don’t dare repeat) and how my leadership style “wasn’t working!” And she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Many other managers threatened to quit en masse, and for the first time it hit me that having an unhappy, overworked, under-inspired workforce could put us out of business.

In the undeniable reality of this painful moment, the light turned on, and I realized that a viable company isn’t just a product or a service, nor is it a combination of systems or processes—it’s all about the people who work there. After all, they are the ones who, day in, day out, deliver results. Their skills, their commitment, their teamwork, and their heart are necessary to drive a business forward. I couldn’t have sustainable business success without my team—I had to learn how to partner with them.

I mulled over this thought: How could I let people know they were an essential key to achieving our goals within our company? How could I make the best use of our great employees—the people I now call ‘A’ Players—and at the same time structure teams in such a way that they worked together like the well-tuned parts of an engine? I needed a business model that allowed me to step back to do the bigger strategic thinking while filling the gap with people who stepped up and took responsibility!

To make this happen, I had to radically change my management approach. I couldn’t sacrifice our company values to get results, no matter how tempting, because then everyone who worked there would do the same. I realized I wanted a company whose reputation highlighted the value of our products and our people—people who were empowered to make decisions and encouraged to lead. I admit this transition was a challenge for me for a while. I had to learn to develop my team so I could reliably trust that they would think and act in the most effective, best interest of the company and its goals. And once they got developed, I had to trust that they had the skills and perspectives to do not only the operational tasks but also the ongoing managerial activities (such as problem-solving and decision-making) that I had kept control of for far too long.

These realizations were part of a humbling and growing season for me as a person and a business leader. After all of my running around, working long hours to continue our expansion and strengthen our reputation for having the best ice-blended mocha beverage on the market, I was still slammed with the fact that we could go under from poor operations. Up until this time, I had believed it was my role to figure everything out and then dole out the instructions to my team. My leadership shortcomings were the driving factor behind the challenges we were facing, and this harsh reality got my attention. At that point, I started to think, I have to learn how to do this differently. Our company would not survive if I didn’t change my approach and transform into a leader who recognized the people who worked for me as my most valuable resource. 

And if I could do it (a reformed micromanager!), I know you can too.

So how do you uplevel your own leadership skills? 

You must learn how to partner with your team so that you can empower them to become leaders who are able to problem-solve and make decisions anchored in the outcomes of your vision and strategic plan. This is key to your long term success. The days of top-down authority are over and any business committed to caring about their impact on their team and clients will lean into collaborating and developing their team to drive outcomes.

And that’s what the people part is all about. 

We teach companies and their leaders how to come together to align and make conscious agreements that help you take effective action together.

And before you dive into ACE teamwork, you (and each member of your team) have to be in Self-Leadership which is the basis of critical thinking, performance, and effective interaction. Because, if you are continuously showing up in self-protection, your best thinking is NOT available. And that means your ability to make the best decisions in partnership with your team is also not available.

Here are a few tips to help you get out of a reactive state (self-protection) and show up in Self-Leadership so you can effectively collaborate with your most valuable resource—your team:

  • Start noticing and recognizing when you might be in self-protection and don’t make any decisions in the moment if you can help it (this might not always be possible especially if you’re in the middle of a presentation). But, it is more possible than most realize to ask to postpone the decision until later in the day, or the following day, to give time for emotions to pass, and all to be certain they are seeing things clearly.
  • If you are having a reaction where you feel like you want to defend, prove, fix, or blame (or any other reactive impulse), pause in a way that helps calm down your own reaction. It can be as simple as sitting back in your chair, and pulling your focus inward, or putting your emphasis on listening. Active listening is a leadership super skill that can be very revealing in the best possible way. 
  • Depending on the circumstances, once you’ve paused, do something that helps you regulate your emotions so you can shift back to a more neutral state—go for a walk, take a dance break, play with your dog or kids, watch a funny video, or whatever else helps you move the energy of your emotions. These moments we step away, often prove to feed our creativity, so even if you feel you couldn’t possibly take the time, trust me and take the longer pause.

Strengthening your own emotional endurance is the one thing you can do everyday to help ensure you have the leadership stamina to meet the moment. Self-Leadership is key to your empowerment. The more you can become aware of your own reactive behaviors and get yourself back into Self-Leadership, the easier it will be to work with your team effectively.

You and your team are in this together and you need each other, with your best thinking, to reach the best results! Deploy united teamwork today with ACE: alignment to outcomes and consciously made agreements, set you up with the best chance to take effective action. 

You’ve got this!





PS: We started a podcast! It’s called Leadership Is Calling. You can tune in here: https://leadingedgeteams.com/podcast

Or you can watch it over on YouTube: https://leadingedgeteams.com/YouTube




Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Are You In The Stands Or In The Game?

Are You In The Stands Or In The Game?

You’ve just walked into an arena to watch a big game. 

You’re excited—you grab a beer (or whatever your drink of choice is) and your favorite stadium snacks. You head to your seat and settle in, ready to be entertained.

Then, a couple of players on the team you’re rooting for start missing passes. They even miss a couple of clear shots. Things aren’t going the way you envisioned and it isn’t looking good for your team…

It’s easy to judge when you are sitting comfortably in the stands. There’s no risk for you to be there, no skin in the game (unless you have placed a bet or you’re one of those diehard fans who has some superstitious ritual that helps your favorite team win!). You’re there to sit back and enjoy watching the action.

You get to observe and make quick assessments of how the game is going from the vantage point of someone who isn’t on the team or directly involved… 

In other words, it’s easy to have an opinion about what should and shouldn’t happen when you’re on the sidelines. It’s a totally different experience when you’re actually in the game.

The same is true when you’re working inside of an organization and on a team. It’s easy to judge and have a limited perspective of how a business or team should operate when you aren’t directly involved with them. It’s a much different experience when you are directly involved and responsible for achieving a successful outcome with others.

Take the following example—you have a teammate who hasn’t completed a project that’s been on their plate longer than the original timeline. While it isn’t directly affecting you or your workload, you start making judgments about how this teammate has dropped the ball. You may question their abilities overall or think that if you had been in their shoes, that you would have surely achieved that goal.

It’s easy to judge how your teammate is handling their part, while totally ignoring the fact (or conveniently forgetting) that YOU, too, have missed a deadline or that you likely have had a future project or two that you couldn’t get moving as quickly as you would have liked. Judging is our human default. We all do it. But great performers and humans who strive to have an impact strive to be better and do better. That’s why putting good critical focus on how you can uplevel your performance is key to you being successful in the game. The more you put the focus on your part, rather than hanging out in judgment of others, the bigger impact you’ll have on the overall outcomes and goals that you and your team are going for.

And, you have a bigger impact than you think.

You have a part to play and you get to choose to be conscious of this or to keep sitting back and unconsciously judging others without considering how you can jump in and make a positive difference.

Which do you choose? 

If you’re ready to jump in and be part of the change, it’s important to consider that there are a lot of challenges in the world today that are affecting all areas of our lives. And that means we need outside of the box thinking, great minds collaborating, and humans striving to make a positive difference, and enduring when the game plan needs revising along the way. 

This means that you are one part of a team (and humanity as a whole) who has the power to make a positive difference in the way you choose to show up when you’re in the game. You get to choose your impact and bring your best self to the table when working with others. 

Will you always do this perfectly? Of course not, but your willingness to drop judgment and remember that you and your team are doing the best you can under a lot of challenges and stress is a huge win. You need each other, through all of the ups and downs, to be successful in the game. That starts with your willingness to show up and do what it takes to succeed.

In our teaching and training, we emphasize and model that everything begins with you from a place of empowerment rooted in Self-Leadership. This means that you are showing up with your best thinking available and you are not in a reactive state—AKA you’re not taking action from a place of judgment. You’ve done the work to get back into Self-Leadership by using our CCORE Empowerment Process, (click here to get the full process, complete with exercises) and then you are taking the most effective action together as a team so that you have the best chance of reaching your goals. 

When everyone on your team is moving together rooted in their own Self-Leadership, you’re able to make decisions that keep making you a winning team. 

Will you jump in or stay on the sidelines?

To your best and most empowered self,



PS: We started a podcast! It’s called Leadership Is Calling. You can tune in here: https://leadingedgeteams.com/podcast

Or you can watch it over on YouTube: https://leadingedgeteams.com/YouTube




Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

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