How leaders can lead innovation by unleashing the “collective genius”

Leadership is often defined as the ability of guiding others, of creating a vision and inspiring others to support it. For Linda Hill, this kind of leadership is probably not the one organizations need to be innovative.

At PMI conference, speakers will talk about innovation and leadership. We recommed this inspiring TED-talk of Linda Hill.

In a thought-provoking TED-talk that we highly recommend you to watch, Linda Hill,Professorof Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author ofCollective Genius, states that “if we want to build organizations that can innovate time and again, we must unlearn our conventional notions of leadership”. She has observed leaders of innovation in action during almost a decade and has come up with some interesting conclusions.

  • Innovations rarely come from solo genius, but most probably from collective creativity, which emerges from the collaboration between many individuals.
  • Innovations need to be developed through a long journey, they are not created full-blown.
  • Innovations arise from diversity and conflict between individuals advocating for their own point of view, testing their ideas and confronting them to other critical minds.

Based on these observations on innovation, Linda introduces a new definition of leadership that applies in contexts where innovation and creativity are needed and encouraged.

“Leading innovation is about creating the space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving”.

Indeed, leaders must grant personal space to talented individuals for them to be creative and to unleash their “collective genius”. The role of the leaders is  to create spaces to which individuals want to belong and to act as connectors between the members of organizations.

For more on this topic, watch Linda Hill’s TED-talk and come to the Project Management Forum to discuss innovation, leadership and how to create a more innovative environment within your organization. We are waiting for you!

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