Innovation Leadership is symbolized in this photo. There are stick figures holding hands in a circle around a large light bulb. The light bulb symbolizes the end product, which is innovation.What is innovation leadership?

It is a new model for companies across the globe to promote innovation, leadership, and creativity among their employees. Dr. David Gliddon developed the concept of innovation leadership at Penn State University in 2006.

Some of the main components of innovation leadership include managing different leadership needs and styles within an organization so that the employees from across the network are encouraged to share unique ideas, new products, improvements, or program efficiencies.

In the book, A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, Gail Martino and John Bartolone note that for open innovation leadership there are some key qualities that distinguish these leaders: “The OI professional is a rare breed – part entrepreneur, part deal maker, alliance manager and part project manager.” These qualities lead employees not only to share ideas, but also to collaborate, discover, and experiment. This environment allows employees the freedom to fail and learn because the potential for new innovation is always around the corner.

 

How does innovation leadership change the company landscape?

Prior to the birth of innovation leadership, employees and companies alike were often limited to the traditional, and often stagnant, methods of achieving their corporate missions. In the old company model, innovation leadership was discouraged. Instead only those higher up on the food chain took part in company growth and direction. This method resulted in recycled ideas and low company morale. This approach was acceptable until globalization required organizations to keep in step with their competitors. Two surveys conducted by the McKinsey Quarterly found that “more than 70 percent of the senior executives say that innovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth for their companies in the next three to five years. Other executives see innovation as the most important way for companies to accelerate the pace of change in today’s global business environment.”

By implementing innovation leadership into an organization, company leaders have an opportunity to affect real change in the pace of their organization’s growth.  At the same time, innovation leadership allows employees to be a part of this once off-limits dialog and at the same time be creatively invested in the company. Ultimately, innovation leadership creates a collaborative workplace that is free to communicate new ideas with transparency and a forward-thinking vision.

To learn how to prepare your team for an open innovation, download our innovator’s starter kit here.