Leadership and Innovation

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Date Submitted: 01/12/2011 06:56 AM

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Leadership and Innovation: Learning from the Best

In surveys of most innovative companies, firms like Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Virgin regularly top the ranks, and stories of their emblematic leaders are recurring topics for management books and magazines. But what do Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson have in common? What do they do that steers innovation in their companies? Are they the sole drivers of innovation leadership? And is there a direct link between the innovation capability of a firm and the charisma of its leader? After all, companies such as Toyota, 3M, Samsung, and Logitech are also recognized for their innovation capabilities, even though it would be more difficult to put a face on their innovation leadership. Learning from the experience of some of the most innovative companies, we describe the common traits that characterize innovation leaders but also show the multiple facets of innovation leadership. Innovation leadership involves different roles and abilities across organization levels and strategic orientations, and along the organization and innovation life cycle. Overall, innovation leadership is too diverse to be left to single individuals; it must be embedded in the organization. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Innovation can be defined as marketable invention: the act of generating an idea and transforming it into a new product, service, solution, or business model that can be sold to customers. Managing innovation involves developing a vision and a strategy, setting up the processes that will materialize it, and creating the organizational conditions and culture that will facilitate the emergence of ideas and their implementation. Creativity, innovation strategies, development processes, knowledge


management, and learning organizations, as well as innovative cultures, have long been topics for management books and academic literature on innovation. But to some extent leadership...