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Innovation in Leadership Seen as Stagnant

 -  8/15/11

Leaders’ ability to innovate and foster innovation, as well as confidence in leadership in general, is low, according to a study by Development Dimensions International.

Innovation has been a key watchword in business in the last decade, as industry leaders such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Toyota and Amazon — the top six most innovative companies in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2010 — continue to introduce new products and services and refine existing ones in ways that make their respective marketplaces thriving and creative.

Anyone in business is likely looking to follow suit. “Any time you talk about innovation, people’s ears perk up,” said Jazmine Boatman, manager of the Center for Applied Behavioral Research at Development Dimensions International (DDI). “It’s just such a buzzword and it’s become a mantra for a lot of organizations lately. But where the confusion sets in is typically when you think about innovation, you think about people’s ability to create new products and processes.” She compared these new products and processes to lightning. “The real importance of innovation from a leader’s standpoint is not just their ability to create lightning, but their ability to create the atmospheric conditions that allow for lightning.”

This is where the problem comes in. According to a 2010 report by the Boston Consulting Group titled “Innovation 2010: A Return To Prominence — and the Emergence of a New World Order,” which saw response from 1,590 executives across a range of industries, innovation is only moving upward as a business priority: “Seventy-two percent of respondents said [innovation] is one of their company’s top three priorities, up significantly from the 62 percent who said so in 2009.” Yet, according to DDI’s recently released “Global Leadership Forecast,” which drew response from 1,897 HR representatives and more than 12,000 leaders from 74 countries, half of leaders rated themselves as ineffective at fostering creativity and innovation.

In looking at the bigger picture as presented by the study, perception of leadership quality was low overall. Only one out of four HR representatives rated their organization’s leadership quality as very good or excellent. Leaders themselves weren’t giving themselves high marks either; just over one in three leaders rated their leadership quality as very good or excellent.

Article Keywords:   innovation   leadership development  


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