As part of my role at the School of Innovation of Avans University of Applied Sciences, I was able to contribute to an infographic about the course program of the School of Innovation. It comprises the 6 skills of innovative leadership. These are the skills that should be in the toolkit of every self-respecting innovation professional. Click the infographic to download a high-resolution image.

6 Skills of Innovative Leadership

  • Personal Leadership: allows individuals and (multidisciplinary) groups to collaborate in every phase of an innovation process.
  • Connection: can herald environmental developments promptly, connect perspectives and therefore initiate innovation.
  • Investigative capacity: can collect, analyse and assess information to reach insight into an innovative issue.
  • Creativity: can consider and select new, surprising and valuable ideas.
  • Developmental strength: can develop likely ideas for feasible sustainable concepts.
  • Entrepreneurship: can create conditions to implement innovative concepts.


The infographic also includes in-depth insight into 10 types of innovation that are relevant for innovation leaders. In order to be able to work with these skills, it’s necessary to understand the fundamentals of innovation. Innovation leaders should acquire the basics about the following three ‘categories’ of innovation:

  • Innovation of your company’s configuration. These types of innovation are focused on the innermost workings of an enterprise and its business system
  • Innovation of the product (system). These types of innovations are focused on an
    enterprises’s core product or service, or a collection of its products and services
  • Innovation of the customer experience. These types of innovation are focused on more customer-facing elements of an enterprise and its business system

Moreover, it is wise to keep up-to-date with relevant insights about innovation, such as these.

Process thinking

Another fundamental element in using the 6 skills of innovative leadership is the fact that it is useful to learn yourself an always-on systematic mentality that makes you look at innovation from an ambidextrous perspective, i.e. both in the long and the short term. Innovation isn’t something that happens, but something that is gradually part of your system.

We define 8 different steps in this process:

  • Investigate issues or problems.
  • Defining insights and opportunities.
  • Generating an abundance of ideas.
  • Selecting ideas.
  • Developing concepts.
  • Building a business case.
  • Realising concepts.
  • Implementing into your business.

During this process, it’s necessary to interact with the environment. Experiencing, inspiration, testing and collaboration are key to that.


Also the soft skills – that form the heart of the culture of your business – are of strong importance to the success of you as an innovative leader. Start with yourself and than educate your employees on the 15 elements of creative attitude, grouped in 5 categories:

  • Inquisitiveness
  • Discipline
  • Persistent
  • Imaginative.
  • Collaborative.


IMG_4152_Dit_is_hem_120_100.jpg   This article was written by Jan Spruijt. Jan Spruijt is a senior lecturer and entrepreneur in Innovation Sciences. Connect with Jan to stay in touch: