Innovation Leadership is a Key Ingredient to Business Success
By David Gliddon, Ph.D., adjunct professor of Business
Innovation leadership is the practice of applying leadership to support the creation of new ideas, products, services and solutions. An innovation leader realizes that any employee can conceive innovative ideas, at any moment and for any reason. They recognize, support and empower employees to be creative. Consider Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple, the largest public company in the world by market capitalization. He demonstrated the attributes of an innovation leader, and today, Apple is not only the most profitable retailer in America, but is also considered the world’s most innovative company.
Innovation leaders apply their skills in two primary ways: through market innovations and organizational innovations.
Market innovations focus on increasing the market share of a company though increased adoption of a product or service. This helps organizations stay competitive, grow and increase profit. Within in most organizations, you’ll find a cross-functional team tasked with developing market innovations. Innovation leaders make a difference by seeing the value in a team’s creativity and understanding how those sparks of ingenuity can be developed into a tangible business product, service or process. Often, new technology plays a role in market innovations, as Robert Pepper, VP Global Technology Policy at Cisco, describes in this video. New technology brings about new market innovations, and this, can have a profound impact on society.
Organizational innovations aim to develop new ways to enhance business operations. This includes, improving internal processes, developing more effective management practices, fine-tuning fiscal strategies, generating new business models, or implementing new technologies. Best practices are commonly derived from organizational innovations. In fact, a 2010 study of 117 firms found that innovation leadership significantly enhances organizational performance, and that affects its economic stability and long-term sustainability.
Building a Culture of Innovation
Innovation flows from the mind of individuals. When placed into teams, individual ideas converge to form new, often better, ideas. It’s within these team environments, that innovation can truly develop and grow. Through collaborative discussion and evaluation of ideas, market innovation and organization innovation is formed. As an innovation leader, it’s important to create a culture of creativity and innovation. Inspire creativity within all employees, leveraging their ideas and passion to develop your organization’s next new, big idea.
David Gliddon, Ph.D., is an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Technical University and a member of The White House Community Leaders Program. He has global consulting experience in human resources and education. He has won awards for both academic service and for his research on innovation leaders. He was a reviewer for SAGE publications. His research is listed as suggested reading by the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Federal Consulting Group.
Image credit: Flickr/Vermin Inc.