The Art of Innovation Leadership  

"This is a review by Nicholas Newman of Victor Newman's book entitled "The Innovators Got To Do It-Understanding the Art of Innovation Leadership" published by knowledge works books in 2010."  

  Every day, there is some story in the media about governments, universities and companies succeeding or failing at innovation. Though, the most common complaint, you will hear is that there is a lack of an innovation culture. This is despite great innovations occurring around the world, including Kalashnikovs AK-47, still the most used assault rifle to the simple post-it note that you see littering documents all over the world.

The trouble is, organisations, whether large or small find it very difficult to create an innovative leadership culture, perhaps a good example of this is Japan's Sony Corp, which has not produced an innovative world beating consumer product since the Walkman. Moreover, the questions, amongst many observers is, will Apple continue to maintain its innovative leadership, now that Steve Jobs has sadly passed away.

What is perhaps most interesting is that many of the world's greatest innovators succeeded despite not completing school or university, such as Mark Zuckerburg the creator of Facebook. Unfortunately, our education systems perpetuate ideas of the past rather than generate inspired and creative leaders like Bill Gates. Steve Jobs' last campaign was "think different" the problem with universities is that they get trapped into stereotypes of "out of the box" thinking that have to meet their pre-conceptions...

The point of this book is for leaders to comprehend the importance of their leadership innovation, behaviours (ILBs) in terms of where they are currently and what they need to do to lead an innovation revolution in the future. This book is divided into four sections, the first looks at the heart of innovation leadership and why it can fail to succeed. I appreciate the aptness of the author’s definition about innovativeleadership, which it is about ‘behaving unreasonably for the right reasons’. So the innovation that Vincent van Gogh showed in his fantastic paintings of the sunflowers that are now so popular today, perhaps justifies his unreasonable behaviour whilst alive.

What is interesting is Victor's observation that many organisations get fixated about the processes and forget the importance of employing genuinely innovative people. In addition, many organisations spend huge sums on so-called innovative consultancies with little result. In a sense it's like the blind leading the blind.

What is interesting is for there to be a successful innovation leadership to suceed, an organisation's CEO needs to understand what type of innovative leader, he is. Together, with a comprehension of what needs to be changed in his behaviour and how desperate such as leader is for such change.

Victor Newman has identified four main types of leadership behaviours. They are the creators, translators, stabilisers and navigators. The writer points out with real-life examples of CEOs leaders demonstrating varying combinations of such behaviours. It is argued for instance that Kalashnikov like Steve Jobs had more of a Creator/ Translator personality, in that he was able to take other people's ideas and integrating them into a new configuration with clear benefits.

leadershipI especially enjoyed the writer’s experience as a consultant engaging with his client a dominant thrice divorced alpha male yacht owner, who despite his claims to the contrary, regarded developing an innovative leadership company culture as a threat to his position in the company as CEO. Towards the end of this section, Victor provides some interesting case studies about how certain innovations have been affected by different innovation leadership types.

The last part of the book provides guidance on how you can diagnose your own leadership personality and provides a guide about how you can develop a new innovation leadership personality through a series of workshops. Also in this section you will find a series of case studies illustrating some of the lessons Victor has learned as a consultant in aiding his clients into transforming themselves into effective and productive innovative leaders.


This book provides a step by step guide of insights that can help the aspiring innovative leader to transform his innovative leadership personality. What many will appreciate is the writers own insights into real life experiences he has had as a consultant with clients that has triggered new insights that have developed his theories in creating innovative leaderships.

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For more about Victor Newman

Visit Victor's "Power House - Strategic Knowledge Management: Insights, Practical Tools & Techniques" on

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