Leadership and Innovation in Times of Change

With innovation as a current top-of-mind quality, we spoke to our very own CEO, Nathalie Trutmann, about innovative leadership and the challenges that come with change.

Leaders in 2019 and beyond have to adapt to waves of change, trends and expectations in order to keep business relevant and moving forward. With innovation as a current top-of-mind quality, we spoke to our very own CEO, Nathalie Trutmann, about innovative leadership and the challenges that come with change.

Does innovative leadership mean different things across different cultures?

There’s a common denominator for innovative leadership that is valid for all cultures: the ability to anticipate a market’s and its consumers’ movements. Most leaders and creators would be considered innovative in any culture. Think of Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

We have also seen many leaders that innovate—despite them being foreigners—and that can work very well with homogeneous or multicultural teams. This shows that there is a baseline for creativity that crosses cultures, however there are leadership codes that are not valid for every culture. In China, for example, all innovations need to pass by authority, hierarchy and tradition. Brazilians may be less disciplined than Germans, and thus may value a more creative leadership, instead of only effort.

It is important to respect the group’s values when innovating because if not, innovation will not be validated. The innovative leader is an alchemist that uses the team’s culture symbols to make them work with harmony and cohesion.

What are your thoughts on micro-management?

The point here is that these concepts have been changing and can assume different meanings depending on the context or culture. Micro-management has been a taboo in leadership. Leaders that want to control small tasks have always been seen as outdated and not focused on strategy. The mainstream line though is that it was not compatible to micro- manage and to think big, as if they were antagonistic. However, in real life it can very well be that there is not just one valid rule for everything.

Micromanagement is harmful when it’s a synonym for insecurity, in oneself or in others. But it may be necessary when details are crucial for perceiving the whole picture. Being involved in every step of a strategic project cannot be confused with micromanagement. For example, a good leader has the sufficient elasticity to perceive when they need to use a magnifying glass to see the micro-organisms that may be eroding and ruining a vital project.

Change is a big topic right now and insights into adapting to changes and innovations from a CEO’s perspective – how do you think you will deal with change?

My feeling is that the verb change was never used as much in the history of humanity as it is used today. But the fact is that we are in constant movement, which is the essence of change. We even change positions when we are sleeping.

Change can be an involuntary act when it is not in line with our will. It can also happen suddenly or imperceptibly. It’s enough to remember our biological cycles to better understand. The big secret is how to recognize these cycles. Technological changes make us feel that we are not as fast as we could be. And this causes anxiety. For example, we feel old earlier. The fact is that there is not just one time that exists. In addition to our chronological time, we have our historical, our psychological times and many others. In truth, the point here is that attentive leaders do not let themselves be taken by surprise by the changes. At least not completely because they know how to react in the right time, which is essential for businesses to survive.

If we check out the case of print media. The New York Times perceived that people continue to be interested in good content, but not in a conventional format. They also perceived that the business model, dependent on advertising, would not be sustainable due to new and more efficient players like Google and Facebook. They were able to do a turnaround, but they are still an exception, because other media groups only perceived the changes too late and were not agile enough to react.

If you change a bit every day, you won’t run the risk that a sudden change will bruise you.

How do you think you will deal with change?

I dance, and in dance there is a concept that is learning how to fall. A conditioned and strengthened body can fall – of course it will suffer an impact, but it will also recover faster. A non-exercised body is slow. Learning and reacting are as important as changing.

Leading Hyper Island is a privileged position to see businesses of different industries from the most diverse angles. My position allows me to navigate different areas with a kaleidoscope that allows me to capture and save images and information all of the time. That’s why I can be agile and light, as if I were dancing. It’s curious how similar this is to the core of our methodology – our courses are not static, but dynamic. That’s why they obey the flow of dance.

What are you objectives for Hyper Island’s innovation courses?

I like to have objectives. Objective implies training. During these last few years, I have been trained to deliver excellence in our programs. Just like a zen archer always points their arrow high and not to the target, I also have to place our standards at a level higher than our clients’ expectations.

Creative leadership for me has to do with the unblocking of internal resources and the access to external resources. I have seen many companies where there is a surplus of external resources, but where leadership still deals with the scarcity of emotional resources. However, the abundance of these also does not guarantee anything, although the lack of emotional resources is worse than the lack of material resources.

A well-humored chef can prepare an unforgettable dish, even if he or she has only a few ingredients to hand. But he or she may have the most modern equipment and the most varied ingredients. If a chef is fearful or stressed it’s very likely that the recipe will not work.

In this sense, my objective is that our courses and programs may help our students to know how to access the essential resources inside and outside of themselves. Generation Z are naturally technological, fluid, contradictory, authentic and like to fuse between apparently opposite cultures. The difference between us and others is that we do not have a set menu, with pre-made dishes to be warmed up in a microwave. Instead, we have a wide and mysterious array of resources, ready to be used by those who are building new businesses that may not even exist today.


What do you think? Share your thoughts here!


Are you interested in developing your innovation skills? Check out our leadership and culture courses:

Leadership & Culture

Agile Ways of Working

An intensive 3-day course to improve your capability to rapidly respond and adapt to changes in the market in order to help keep your organization relevant.
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HR Mindset Transformation

Where HR executives discover new ways to support digital transformation.
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Hyper Island Way

A 3-day intensive course that will give you the skills and tools to help you develop your team and yourself to seize full potential in collaborations.
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Leading Teams in the Digital Age

Enable you and your team to work better together, be more effective and reach your goals. Get the modern tool belt for culture, collaboration and leadership in times of change and complexity.
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Process Design and Facilitation

Practice hands-on process design and management to harness collective intelligence.
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Strategic Facilitation for Better Workshops

An intro on how to harness collective intelligence towards business outcomes in prototyping and ideation sessions, workshops and meetings.
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Team Performance & Collaboration

Seize the potential of group dynamics to align strategy, culture and execution. Unleash creativity to get the results you need.
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Understanding Groups and Leaders

A five-day course on how to become more effective as a group member and leader.
5 days