hroughout his long and storied career, Neil Young has been a virtual factory of songs, musical innovation, ideas, inventions and a near-constant stream of new product. Lest we miss the obvious, his life and work would fit the most stringent definition of a successful business: consistent revenue generation; consistent innovative product releases; nurturing of intellectual and human capital; a strong, well-maintained brand. And at the core of this lifetime of business success are two critical innovation principles consistently applied, day in and day out, in real time, in the real world.
First, and foremost, is Young’s steady, constant leadership of his own innovation ecosystem. As with any authentic leader, his concern is not about himself, or what he creates, but with how his actions inspire, challenge and cause others to create. ”I am succeeding because people are talking about how they would do it better.” This quotation from Young’s book captures the essence of innovation leadership better than any other business, professional or academic study of leadership. Simply stated, we cause innovation when we are more concerned about how others are “doing it better,” than we are with ourselves. This is the confounding irony of leadership – that innovation requires both strong individual leadership and a powerful commitment to selflessness. Individual leaders are more successful — and more innovative — to the degree their focus is on the success of others before their own.
Continue reading the rest of the story on Forbes