By focusing on self-improvement and leading by example, business leaders can foster a culture of genuine innovation within their organizations.

Business leaders have gotten into a habit of equating innovation with tech. When they think of evolving their companies, they picture more streamlined software, a growing relationship with artificial intelligence, more tools, and more intuitive processes.

But all this focus on tech has taken us away from our truest innovator — ourselves. In a world obsessed with new solutions, leaders can’t just bank on technology to make everything better. Instead, put the onus of self-improvement on yourself to help push your business over the top.

Discovering My Own Inner Innovator

Growing up as a missionary kid, I felt very disconnected from the idea of success. When I grew up and became an emerging business leader, I clung to people I already saw making it. I would spot a successful leader in my field and become a sponge ready to soak up knowledge. I dug into strategy, studied sales techniques, attended seminars, and listened to interviews all day.

As I matured and learned from my own experiences, I realized that this wealth of knowledge I’d pulled from my mentors was purely technical. I’d never really done the work of delving inside my state of being because I assumed I was innately ill-equipped. I learned from my own experiences, using the very thing I ignored for so long to accelerate my professional growth.

These leaders taught me that the best way to become a great leader was never to settle. Great leaders welcome self-improvement and self-discovery and acknowledge their blind spots in order to grow and succeed. The patience to invest in one’s self — and not just shiny tech — is what separates good leaders from great ones.

Viewing business development in this context makes it clear that tech isn’t the cure-all we make it out to be. If the individuals in your company aren’t evolving, learning lessons, and taking risks, no amount of new tech will save them.

Use Self-Improvement (Not Tech) to Jump-Start Innovation

As a leader, you have the chance to set an example. Show your employees what it means to invest in self-improvement with the following strategies:

1. Encourage proactive learning. Telling your people to practice self-development is well-intentioned. But amid the pressures and packed schedules of business life, they’re going to need some help. As a leader, provide your employees with the resources (reading material, mentorship opportunities, etc.) they need to become their best selves.

Start a self-development book club within your company that shares examples of pieces that inspired your mentors. Book your team in personal development courses or host a weekly self-improvement workshop. While these practices are typically reserved for new hires, they’re equally as important for veteran team members.

For example, my friend John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods, might seem like someone who doesn’t need much self-improvement. Yet John is always willing to better himself, either through meditation, reading, or professional development courses. Follow this example and cultivate a workplace where education never ends.

2. Get out of your echo chamber. Self-scrutiny is a powerful tool. It’s also often easier said than done, and it should be accompanied by collaborative self-development.

There’s nothing more powerful than having somebody who will sit down with you, look you in the eyes, and help you identify the areas where you suck. It’s not easy to invite honest feedback, but it can ultimately be the best thing you can do for your company.

Ask your employees to offer areas of improvement, and work to embrace those critiques without getting defensive. You will initiate a culture of honest, caring feedback that will empower others to self-scrutinize and pursue growth without fear.

3. Be OK with less than perfect. Asana co-founder Justin Rosenstein began his career at Facebook, but everything was not as perfect as it might have seemed from the outset. Rosenstein had a rude self-awakening when he was called out for being “a jerk” by his colleagues as the social media juggernaut.

This could have been a hugely destructive moment, but Rosenstein’s manager was not put off. He worked with Rosenstein over the next six months to help him address those faults and set goals for his self-improvement. He even continued to reach out to Rosenstein’s colleagues to collect their evolving feedback.

Being able to work with his flaws was crucial to Rosenstein’s future success, but he couldn’t have done it alone. That’s where a great leader comes in. Create a work environment that constructively addresses mistakes instead of sweeping them under the rug or chastising the perpetrators. Be a resource to your employees and see them through rough patches to help them grow as people.

The most radical innovations in the world won’t do squat for your organization unless the people within it are ready to improve themselves. Create and cultivate an environment where this self-development is safe and rewarded — confronting yourself as a leader and an individual — and you’ll empower your employees to be genuinely innovative.