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In leadership, one of the key factors to success is being committed to living on the cutting edge. If you're seeking to be an effective leader in your field then this really isn't optional. Sure, it can be really difficult at times and it takes a lot more effort every day. But that's the point. The best things in life are always the hardest—and the same is true in leadership. Here are a few reasons why living on the edge of innovation postures you for greater success.

First of all, innovation helps you prevent problems, not just react to them. This is really simple. If you wait till something breaks before you change anything, you will always be reacting. Think of a car. If you wait to replace your breaks until they finally go out, you'll probably get into a car accident. The same is true in your personal life, your team or your organization. Leaders who live on the cutting edge have a tactical advantage in dealing with problems before they happen. This is very important for an organization to run smoothly and continually grow.

Secondly, innovation cultivates a culture of thriving, not just surviving. There is far more important than we realize. The mindset of the leadership filters down into the mindset of the entire organization. And there is a huge difference between a leader looking for the next great idea and a leader just trying to make it to the end of the year. One has an expectation for future growth. The other has a fear of future failure. One promotes excitement. The other promotes apathy. One is seeking to create transformation. The other wants to avoid change. And the truth is both will get exactly what they want. One will get exciting transformational growth. The other will just survive.

Finally, innovation positions you to be a trailblazer, not just a trail-follower. You know, the thing about a trailblazer is that they're always first. They're the first to discover the next game-changer. They're the first to utilize new tools and methods for growing their organization. That positioning gives you a tremendous advantage. Think of Apple, Google or even Coca-Cola. Much of their initial success came from simply being the first to try out new ideas. So don't settle with following trails that others have forged. Blaze your own trail!

Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

This article originally appeared at lifeway.com.

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