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When leadership means more innovation and development

Alberto Carneiro

Alberto Carneiro is Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Sciences and Technologies at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

1. Introduction
Substantial growth of new technologies, the dynamics of society, and technological development shifts connected with innovation processes, give rise to a great number of management perspectives. The main strategy of surviving organizations during this century inevitably will be associated with the formation of a sufciently effective innovation management system for coping with emergent industries and aggressive innovative movements coming from competitors and the provision of adequate leaderships skills for improving organizations responsive directions. Leaders may be seen as key players in the strategic management process. The high speed of technological change requires leaders with different skills and these skills may include the capacity to look for new solutions. It is well known that leadership style and its different dimensions can drive organizations destinies. Nevertheless, few authors have focused attention on the possibility of leadership skills can increase innovative effort in order to contribute decisively to a better technological development. Leadership has been the object of intense scientic research, the proposals focus of many theoretical models, and the subject of many scholars considerations. But that is neither the way that we are concerned with nor the focusing point of our present considerations. We are much more interested in thinking on the ways that leadership can assume in order to try to develop behaviors of innovative effort. The format of this article is as follows. In section 2, the ability of leadership to create motivation levels is discussed in order in order to face the rst relation level between an effective and strategic leadership and its possibility of intervening within employees values dynamics. Section 3 intends to discuss the role of a manager that seems to be resigned to a kind of fate, that is, he/she only is able to sustain the organization within a reactive functioning manner which does not permit organizational development. Section 4 tries to distinguish new products/services that only agitate the eld of alternative transactions from those innovations that really contribute to technological and economic development, suggesting that in this perspective a new leadership style can play a signicant role. The need for a new model of strategic leadership is suggested, which should be oriented to generate an organized innovative effort. Embedding motivation dimensions in strategic leadership model as simultaneous and parallel sets of leadership processes instead of treating them in isolation would facilitate ongoing contribution of innovative efforts to development commitment. Finally, our conclusions point to the need of new directions of research in order to nd new signicant contributions achieve better innovation efciency and development levels.

2. Leadership can create different motivation levels

Can a leader inuence motivation forces for innovating? Where can we nd the main motivational factors that inuence creativity and that make individuals open to innovation? Various factors were found to inuence the creativity of individuals, namely nancial rewards, positive comments, self perception of being creative, and motivation. Usually motivation

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VOL. 9 NO. 4 2008, pp. 176-184, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1751-5637

DOI 10.1108/17515630810891843

appears to play different roles in the creative performance of the individual within work groups. Positive comments and recognition are elds where a strategic leader is able to focus leadership style and these factors may encourage creative contributions (Osborn et al., 2002). Managers and leaders can exert power on their subordinates in order to condition their professional behaviors. Accordingly, they have the possibility of inuence their adhesion to an innovation policy. This means an effort to attempt to reach the sensitive points of their collaborators and provoke a higher level of participation and commitment. This participation level accord to the old policy of management by objectives initially presented by Drucker (1954) and later supported by other authors (Antoni, 2005; Flores and Utley, 2000; Busch, 1998; Odiorne, 1965). How can managers stimulate the emergence of a valuable creativity? A strategic manager has many different leadership roles to play. And among them we can underline the ability to provoke their collaborators to generate new ideas. But managers cannot modify internal environment by simply exhorting them to be creative. If they intend to keep the enterprise responsive and innovative, they must lead the process of developing new capabilities. To some leaders the most important management direction is to drive innovation as the force for revitalization, job creation and new enterprise growth. Some recent research on employees motivation (Locke and Latham, 2002; Smithers and Walker, 2000) has rightly focused on the internal environment, where the majority of tasks and professional behaviors take place and where employees are most likely to attain an intense motivation to gain better productivity levels. Making the organization a place that naturally motivates employees to learn is much easier when employees and managers work in an atmosphere where organization success and the motivation to innovate are expected and rewarded. Such an atmosphere, especially when motivation to innovate evolves into organizational development, is a positive characteristic of an effective leadership style. How can leaders generate collaborators motivation? An environment that nurtures motivation to adopt innovative effort can be cultivated in the functional area, in the contacts with customers, or throughout an entire organizational culture. One of the most effective avenues for engendering employees motivation to innovate is an organizational culture. According to Jarvenpaa and Staples (2001), organizational culture can be embodied and transformed through channels such as shared values, rewards, recognition, incentives, and cultural networks. The use of a wide variety of group activities may be a valuable tool to communicate motivational goals. The support of a strategic leader can help employees to notice that the desire to be successful professionally is recognized and appreciated. Does a leaders motivation inuence employee motivation? We believe that leaders can inuence levels of motivation by shaping technological development climate. Doing so, this climate can have a signicant impact on the attitudes of employees, technical staff, and managers toward innovation. There are quite interesting connections between a leaders motivation and the level of motivation that may arise among employees (Barbuto and Scholl, 1999; Barbuto et al., 2000). According to their experience and commitment, managers can become more effective and they are able to understand that when persons believe that will contribute to goal achievement they will be motivated to engage in adequate and correct behaviors. If a strategic leader is able to communicate and create a positive consensus around objectives, he/she are likely prepared to attain better motivation levels and development achievement. So, the intensity of collaborators motivation level will depend on:

the personal value that seems to be attached to the objectives of each task in question; how much is he/she believing about its achievability; and ones judgment about how successful a particular behavior will have as consequence a true beneted and some reward.

It is already known that a positive psychological environment strongly inuences employees motivation (Shipper and Davy, 2002; Rousseau, 1998). This type of environment can be created by strategic leaders that know how to use their management skills, especially in businesses where product have short life cycles and


Strategic leadership contributes to increase innovative efforts and innovation positive results.

growth depends on new product innovation. Moreover, these leaders need to communicate a prosperous picture of the future in order to foster commitment. Employees need to have a positive perspective of their roles and to understand that they are a valuable asset. Some motivation would increase the innovative effort if employees were asked to assume greater autonomy and control over their professional behaviors and learning as they proceed through higher grade levels. It is recommended that innovative leaders create an environment that would facilitate task involvement rather than ego involvement (Day et al. 2001). Engendering employees motivation is an ongoing process that requires creativity and energy. Conducting regular surveys to monitor employees satisfaction can be an appreciable effort that can help organizations to retain good employees and improve their performance (Dodgson and Wood, 1998). Here are a few other steps innovative leaders can take to improve employees motivation: 1. Analyze the ways that motivation operates in organization current life and develop a clear way of communicating it to employees. 2. Seek ways to demonstrate how motivation plays a decisive role in organizational. 3. Convince employees that success is strategically decisive. 4. develop or participate in training programs that focus on reasons and benets to enhance innovative efforts and motivation. 5. Involve employees in discussing the issue of motivation and give them guidance in fostering it in their tasks.

3. Does conformed management prevent development?

An accommodated manager, I mean, a manager that is resigned to accept the present situation is not able to communicate an idea of innovative effort. An individual only is able to transmit the truth in which he/she believes or at least it can communicate with enthusiasm the truth that he/she believe as a credible statement or a truth that comes from a source in which we can believe. Communication power is supported by our strong beliefs and the conviction of our own goals. One of the factors that affect intensively technological development is the resistance to change in its passive way of dealing with the need of implications. Some individuals react to the change, that is, they have reactive forces against the risk of development possibilities. But others only use the passive force of habits, they comply with usual situations or, if they are conscious enough of some difculties, they adopt resignation, that is, they seem to accept destiny without understand that it does not guarantee survival. Being so, we can say that conformed management, likely in a submitted style, is a severe enemy of innovative effort and technological development. Most organizations are operating in environments which can be characterized by an increased complexity or by an intense turbulence. Strategic managers are dealing with some interdependence and unpredictable market and social situations and they have to be prepared to change under these conditions (Morgan, 1988). Some organizations face and experience difculties in adapting to conditions that are not similar to those that they are used to. Sometimes, there is resistance to change and we can nd also a defensive perspective of organizational development.


When a manager is not motivated to innovation, he/she may reject it. It seems that the reason for this rejection is a bad understanding of the possibility of obtaining benets, but, in effect, this manager fears the implications. The ability to generate a positive innovation, and consequently achieve a market segment, does not mean that management is creating permanent skills to innovate. Innovation will only be created if management delivers performance in the ability to motivate employees, or if it convinces employees that they have the ability to do so. This is virtually impossible without the production of innovative proposals, or the adoption of a new and higher value strategy. This article intends also to highlight and explore some negative responses to demands for change and innovation. These negative responses arise as a dangerous attitude to diminish, evade or trivialize the demanding changes required to develop some industrial clusters and SME in general. The possibility of a focused leadership becomes the adequate weapon to avoid development resistance and overcome barriers to more competitive positions. An innovative leadership model is needed in order to attain better responsive levels to emerging economic conditions and to install a development fever as a healthy reaction to an accommodative vice. It is needed to develop a matrix of traits which spans across courageous management in order to attract and retain people and encourage them to grow (Segil, 2002). While a reactive management action acts only after detecting that a given event has occurred, a pro-active one has to overcome a reactive and resigned way of lead and manage organizations and employees that only have weak tendencies to innovate.

4. Adopting a leadership model to improve innovative effort

What kind of leadership model should be adopted to stimulate the innovative effort and to make that positive results can contribute to development? Due to leadership roles, leaders are able to deal with management tools that can be connected to innovation and development. These forces must be driven to generate creative movements within their collaborators. Generally speaking, we could say that strategic leaders have to be actively linked to several knowledge sources, including technical information, from where they can update the basis of their making decision processes. Strategic leadership is always facing serious challenges and some of them present new features, different situations and require innovative answers. Innovation is a challenge because innovation makes possible to turn knowledge and creativity into value. Moreover, various tasks are required to initiate and sustain innovative efforts and successful innovation. These tasks need collaborators that should be willing and able to initiate and sustain change (Isaksen and Tidd, 2006). Changes dont come only from the turbulent environment where we are living. Sometimes, internal changes are decisive consequences of a smart leadership, as it is well known (McLester, 2004; Austin, 2002). Development needs, improvement, high levels of performance and quality are always demanding for change. Development needs should be identied and incorporated into specic strategic proposals, which can be created by a true commitment to innovation that is aligned with business strategy. Moreover, strategic leaders have to understand how to link leadership approaches to the needs of higher performance levels. According to our point of view, these three aspects are the main pillars of our strategic leadership model: 1. knowledge; 2. innovation challenge; and 3. needs of change. Following our ancient cultural habits, effective leadership is initially realized on a basis of commands and orders and later a need to verify the results, to control the behavior of our subordinates. However, a leadership style focused on innovation and development is just the opposite.


A strategic leader should have and develop a strong prole of a self-motivated executive manager. A leader concentrated on innovative and strategic movements tries to motivate collaborators to thrive on innovation by seeking and accepting challenges. I think that managing emotions and attitudes in the workplace can drive performance especially in what concerns the disposal to innovative efforts. Collaborators moods, emotions, and leaders integrative skills have an impact on job performance, creativity, teamwork results, and ability to suggest new ways or new improvements. These thoughts correspond to these three items: 1. Denition of objectives. A strategic leader should be able to dene clearly what is expected, in order to lead the process of developing new capabilities. 2. Motivation on innovation. A strategic leader has to evidence a strong prole of a self-motivated executive manager and a high level of concentration on innovative and strategic movements. 3. Integrative skills. Leadership skills and its integration level lead to frequent attempts to motivate collaborators on innovation and require ability to seek and accept challenges and to provoke the generation of new ideas, offering greater autonomy and control to collaborators. First, it is needed to nd out what is impeding an innovation culture. Afterwards, a strategic manager will set quantiable goals, e.g. next week you should suggest three ways to improve this process and increase the respective prot. Employees, especially close collaborators should be involved in innovation programs designed to achieve organizational goals. Strategic managers conceive knowledge and training education as an organizational asset that is planned for and managed in innovative ways. The attempt to enhance the innovative effort should face the value of teamwork, that is, a strategic leader should keep in mind how employee involvement in teamwork can provide a strong positive relationship with several dimensions of innovation and also a higher motivation and performance levels. A key to success with modern teams includes the continual support of information technology that can facilitate team activities and even stimulate the exchange of new ideas carrying out computer-supported co-operative work. Employees personal achievement also depends on the daring of rms goals and on the wide angle of a personal sense of mission. Direct collaborators, ofce employees, and plant workers have different talent, interest, and learning processes. Management policies can dene organizational exigent standards and these orientations will function as the foundation for a set of innovative efforts all along the value chain. Many professionals have a desire to be achievers, wish recognition for their capabilities. Under the adequate leadership, latent talents can arise to light and produce innovative and successful results. Summarizing, it is possible to say that stimulating the innovative effort include the following considerations:

quantiable goals which should be inspired on organizational exigent standards; innovation culture and programs; knowledge and training education: the acquisition of knowledge processes are enhanced by the support of information technology; and value of teamwork: when leader believes on it, he/she is able to offer recognition for capabilities and to promote the exchange of new ideas.

Involvement in teamwork provides a strong positive relationship with higher motivation to innovative efforts.


Sometimes, when an organization is suffering from an old, unattractive model mix and a poor reputation for quality, an innovative leader has the opportunity to launch a complete turnaround. This turnaround for innovative efforts may include:

the analysis of the problem crucial features; the denition of ambitious objectives; the existence of teams; and the use of push-pull models.

Push teams may develop initiatives and pull teams will be in charge of processes that would implement them. Teamwork can provoke different levels of inspiration for the appearance of new ideas. When there are common goals, team members cooperate with each other better so that the success is reached. For this reason, it is indispensable that the leader denes clearly what is expected. The exchange of ideas, the share of information and the achievement of partial good results tends to increase the motivating force. Although the telecommunication system cannot be a substitute for face-to-face communication, it will facilitate an organizational commitment to innovation, because Information Technology may have a greater impact on the team dynamic. As a result, each member seeks to be responsible by group objectives and by their own progresses. Self-motivated individuals also are motivated to deal with goals. Firms that attract and keep this type of human resources is much more prepared to face competitors, need of change, and innovative efforts. The value and the success factors of teamwork in the domain of innovative efforts can be presented like this:

denition of goals: this is based on a clear presentation of what is expected and these goals have to be perceived as common goals in what concerns all participants; exchange and share of ideas where the acquisition and the production of new information should be included; individual responsibility by group objectives and by own progresses; and self-motivation.


This stimulation of innovative efforts and the deployment of efcient teams lead to innovative and creative advances which, by ones turn, will create originate organizational development in various directions and spheres of activity. As can be seen in Figure 1, a conceptual model for Innovative and strategic leadership is proposed. Taking into account the determinant factors that have been previously discussed, this model shows the main sources from which a strategic leadership style can be acquired to produce innovative results that will contribute to achieve competitive development levels. Strategic leaders have to integrate all these sources to obtain a better capacity to stimulate innovative efforts and to motivate their collaborators and to be able to build up a better level of innovative contributions. This model corresponds only to our personal perspective, according to experience and other researchers conclusions. Further research will be required in order to reach an acceptable level of validation.

5. Conclusions
Organizations and strategic leaders that look for success, excellence, and technological vanguard have to face the concept of Innovation Management as a development perspective with a domain of conceptual autonomy, that is, they should manage innovation within its systemic and technological context as a tool so powerful that it should play the role of a special function of potentialities to explore. Innovation Management has three important strategic goals: support and expand present business portfolio; develop new businesses; and improve the organization technologic abilities.


Figure 1 Innovative and strategic leadership model

The success of Innovation Management depends on the stimulating climate to creative thinking, on the effective integration of ideas and results communication ows and on the adequate procedures of that way of managing. It is urgent to modify, to renew the mentalities of many leaders and revise all the possibilities of managing innovation in the context of a strategic management vision, and create a functional area whose current tasks should nd new answer to some questions such as: how to modify positively the organization offering? How can the organization become more protable and more competitive through innovation? How can we be more protable and more competitive through innovation? This paper intends to provide some insights into strategic leadership processes and leadership inuence on innovative efforts which may lead to enterprises development. Universities and enterprises should commit to a new perspective of higher education in the eld of strategic leadership skills. This perspective would permit to improve the quality of leaders education processes for graduating better leaders in order to increase the innovation level of some industries.


The stimulation of innovative efforts and the deployment of efcient teams create organizational development.

A model has been suggested as a proposal for future research. Its architecture should be improved in order to include new components and the consideration of a wider set of technical relationship, which could offer signicant contributions to achieve better innovation efciency and development levels.

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About the author

Alberto Carneiro, PhD, MSc is Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Sciences and Technologies at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. He received a PhD in Engineering and Industrial Management from the Technical University of Lisbon and an MSc in Business Administration with a specialization in Strategic Management and Planning from the same University. His interdisciplinary research interests mainly involve information systems, knowledge management and the relationships between information and communication technology and competitive innovation. He is studying the ways in which training, knowledge accumulation and information technology enable change in how management teams innovate and make strategic decisions. He has authored several textbooks, articles, and presentations at international and national conferences and workshops. He is a member of the Portuguese Association of Marketing and the Portuguese Association for Higher Education. His professional activities also include executive training programs and consultancy to rms of several industries. Alberto Carneiro can be contacted at: albert.carneiro@netcabo.pt

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