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Several authors have written about the Dark-Side of leadership – I point you to the work of Conger in Tudor Rickards book: Perspectives of Leadership.  What does this say about the need for creative leaders?

Over several years I observed first hand a well-intentioned innovation leader exhibit increasingly “dark” leadership traits such as believing ones own hype, creating an “you’re either with us or against us” environment and a belief in their infallibility. It did not turn out well for one innovation team when these anti-leader factors worked against creativity and the positive outcomes the team wanted.

partners-all-cclThis got me thinking about what it takes to create the “right conditions” for innovation teams to thrive and so I turned to the work of the Center for Creative Leadership and Horth and Buchners 2012 report because creative leadership has much promise for innovation leaders throughout the organization.

First, what is Innovation Leadership? Consider it as the process of creating direction, alignment and the commitment needed to create and implement something new that adds value (i.e. innovation).

The CCL starts with an observation; that the management of many large companies have spent too much effort de-risking innovation to zero – with the consequence of reducing creative spark. This is problematic, because boosting innovation in industrial firms is now a major preoccupation of CEOs and lots of reports are saying “it used to all be about strategy, now it’s all about innovation.”

So, if creative leadership is a critical part of renewing their firms, why do so many execs deliberately seem to separate their creative selves from their business persona? An answer might be that as part of the innovation engine, that creativity needs to be managed and nurtured in its own right.

The good news is that things can be done to build an innovation culture, if one chooses to do so; one where everyone has a responsibility for making innovation “business as usual” and this all stems from becoming a creative leader.

I’ll return to this subject again: Developing a positive innovation culture through appropriate leadership are important levers in developing a high performing innovation engine.


Amabile T (2012), Keys To creativity and innovation. User’s guide, Center for Creative Leadership

Amabile T (1998), How to Kill Creativity, Harvard Business Review, September-October

Horth D (2012), Buchner D, “Innovation Leadership: How to use innovation to lead effectively, work collaboratively and drive results”, Greensboro, Center for Creative Leadership.

Rickards T, & Clark M C, (2005), Dilemmas of Leadership, Oxford: Routledge

Kotter J P, (2001), What Leaders Really Do, Harvard Business Review, December

Northouse P G, 2010, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 5th Ed., Sage

Rob Munro

So, what do you think ?

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