Chapter | Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice | 2010

Unlocking the Slices of Genius in Your Organization: Leading for Innovation

by Linda A. Hill, Maurizio Travaglini, Greg Brandeau and Emily Stecker

Abstract

There is a widespread consensus that innovation is fast becoming the principal source of differentiation and competitive advantage in today's knowledge-intensive economy. But until we reframe our understanding of what innovation and leadership are all about, we fear that innovation will remain an "unnatural act" in many corporations. A sizeable body of research on engendering innovation exists; too little of this knowledge appears to have infiltrated the notions of leadership espoused in the literature or in practice. In this chapter, we share preliminary results from a collaborative project on leadership for innovation. We studied a dozen effective leaders of innovation in a wide range of industries and geographies, posing the following question: what do leaders of innovation really do? In this chapter, we describe what occurs inside of organizations as they develop novel and useful solutions to problems, and we offer a framework for how effective leaders of innovation think and act. Leadership for innovation is more about leading "from behind" than leading from the front. It is about shaping individual and collective experiences to foster innovation rather than about setting direction and mobilizing people to follow. In this chapter, we show what it takes to insure that an organization is willing and able to innovate. We conclude by posing questions for future research. The research will appear in more depth in a forthcoming book, Collective Genius.

Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Leadership; Practice; Competitive Advantage;

Citation:

Hill, Linda A., Maurizio Travaglini, Greg Brandeau, and Emily Stecker. "Unlocking the Slices of Genius in Your Organization: Leading for Innovation." Chap. 21 in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Harvard Business Press, 2010.