Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
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Mastering the Innovation Paradox: The Five Unexpected Qualities of Innovation Leaders

Authors: Murtuza Ali Lakhani, Michelle Marquard

Abstract:

From an organizational perspective, leaders are a variation of the same talent pool in that they all score a larger than average value on the bell curve that maps leadership behaviors and characteristics, namely competence, vision, communication, confidence, cultural sensibility, stewardship, empowerment, authenticity, reinforcement, and creativity. The question that remains unanswered and essentially unresolved is how to explain the irony that leaders are so much alike yet their organizations diverge so noticeably in their ability to innovate. Leadership intersects with innovation at the point where human interactions get exceedingly complex and where certain paradoxical forces cohabit: conflict with conciliation, sovereignty with interdependence, and imagination with realism. Rather than accepting that leadership is without context, we argue that leaders are specialists of their domain and that those effective at leading for innovation are distinct within the broader pool of leaders. Keeping in view the extensive literature on leadership and innovation, we carried out a quantitative study with data collected over a five-year period involving 240 participants from across five dissimilar companies based in the United States. We found that while innovation and leadership are, in general, strongly interrelated (r = .89, p = 0.0), there are five qualities that set leaders apart on innovation. These qualities include a large radius of trust, a restless curiosity with a low need for acceptance, an honest sense of self and other, a sense for knowledge and creativity as the yin and yang of innovation, and an ability to use multiple senses in the engagement with followers. When these particular behaviors and characteristics are present in leaders, organizations out-innovate their rivals by a margin of 29.3 per cent to gain an unassailable edge in a business environment that is regularly disruptive. A strategic outcome of this study is a psychometric scale named iLeadership, proposed with the underlying evidence, limitations, and potential for leadership and innovation in organizations.c

Keywords: Innovation, leadership, ileadership, stewardship, communication, empowerment, creativity, vision, influence, emotional connection, group membership, sense of community, knowledge creation.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1096409

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