Keep your ideas moving

Reduce costs and increase productivity, speed-up decision-making and shorten time-to-market, improve one-to-one relations with customers and partners

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Heralding the pioneering Leadership Academy, South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) Chairman, James E Brathwaite, CBE, reinforced the pivotal role of the Leadership Academy in championing the disciplines of leadership and innovation to business owners with the aim of accelerating global business competitiveness.

The Leadership Academy forms one crucial strand of an imaginative SEEDA initiative, ‘Leadership for Global Competitiveness’, which intends to enhance business ability to innovate and to rapidly develop robust leadership skills to enable the successful exploitation of innovation opportunities in a challenging global marketplace.

SEEDA’s Head of Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Christina Hartshorn, said: “Innovation – the successful exploitation of new ideas – is the catalyst and fuel that drives productivity growth and wealth creation. Inventive leadership and management skills are crucial in ensuring that business owners embed innovation as a core company activity. The South East is synonymous with a dynamic economy, yet in a fiercely contested global knowledge economy, the region increasingly has to compete on the basis of knowledge advantage.”

The Academy is managed by a consortium of internationally renowned institutions comprising of Royal Holloway University, the University of Greenwich, Oxford Brookes University, Henley Management College, the Open University Business School and led by the University of Surrey.

Director of the Leadership Academy, Prof. David Gray, from the University of Surrey, emphasised the criticality of forging valuable partnerships. He said: “One of the primary objectives of the Academy is to build and cement strong partnerships between regional providers of training and development, such as consultants, coaches and mentors, with knowledge creators, such as higher education institutions, to generate and share original ideas, research results, expertise and skills. This will enable innovative new products and services to be developed. Collaboration is vital. The Academy will ignite enthusiasm for greater collaboration and to exchange new thinking and practice. We need this to happen if we want to deliver world class leadership thinking and skills for innovation to businesses. The Academy will deliver a series of interactive and high profile workshops over the next two years to engage with all the key players and to build the partnerships we need to drive forward our activities”.

Endorsing this insight, James Brathwaite added: “It is vital that we share and learn from the best international practice in leadership development and explore vigorously how leadership impacts upon behaviour and business. The ultimate goal is that business leaders will be compelled to embrace and exploit the innovation challenges posed by global competitiveness and that the South East continues to be a thriving and vibrant region.”

Reinforcing links with the new Regional Economic Strategy for the South East (RES), James Brathwaite said: “The rapid emergence of new global economic powerhouses such as China and India offers real opportunities to harness business excellence for the region to compete effectively. One of the targets in the RES is to increase the percentage of total business turnover attributable to new and improved products and services in the South East from 12 per cent to 20 per cent by 2016. Therefore, we have to improve the creativity, courage, capacity and capabilities of business leaders in the region and to elevate the profile of leadership and innovation skills.”

SEEDA has also appointed the first three of four specialist ‘Leadership Development Advisers’ with a remit to provide long-term advice and assistance to businesses that need to develop their leadership skills to enable them to exploit innovation more successfully. They will be working alongside advisers at the SEEDA-funded Innovation Advisory Service who focus on driving up innovation performance in companies through increased use of current capabilities in the knowledge base and the adoption of new technologies. Each will give around 145 business support days per annum to 50 businesses.

Emphasising the importance of innovation, Christina Hartshorn cited a quote from Gary Hamel, who is described by ‘Fortune Magazine’ as the world’s leading expert on business strategy. “Hamel said ‘There are no strategies for creating wealth in the long term that are not driven by innovation; when a company runs out of innovation, it runs out of growth’. We have to champion skills for innovation. If we can capture this brilliant fusion of knowledge, ideas, creativity and the confidence to innovate, then we are going to be in an enviable position to boost innovation and accelerate global competitiveness in our businesses.”