Innovation Lifecycle Management: Innovation Leadership

In a care setting, it is often seen that innovations are quickly diffused and adopted in specific units, but a widespread adoption has always been a challenge. It thus becomes imperative to select a leadership style that supports innovation. An article from the SAGE journal discusses about ‘Distributed leadership’ and the ‘Hierarchical leadership’ style.

For a successful adoption of innovation, it is the former than the latter that is essential. When it comes to health innovation implementation there are three major players , ‘Specialist Practitioners/Consultants’, ‘Allied Care Staff’ and the ‘Managerial’ teams. If a group lacks experience and needs guidance the ‘Hierarchical’ structure works, but when it comes healthcare, it’s more about expertise and knowledge that matters and hence practitioners tend to be the most influential leaders in this case. It is thus important in healthcare to adopt a ‘Shared’ or ‘Distributed’ style of leadership.

The Shared leadership involves interactions among all levels of leaders (doctors, nurses, managers etc.) that have a role to play in influencing the diffusion and adoption of an innovation at the facility to ultimately get their jobs done. In ‘Hierarchical leadership’, managers are often given an outsized role than practitioners and other stakeholders. This is not bad and this is how it is represented as per Charlie Munger’s ‘Authority- Misinfluence Tendency’. There are cases in the top-down approach, people blindly follow their leader’s vision and may turn up successful. To the flip side if the leadership is poor, with a weak mission and mission and if a leader makes blunders in communicating it to their people, things may end up worse off.

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