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The History of Research & Innovation at the Center for Creative Leadership

H. Smith Richardson, Sr.

H. Smith Richardson, Sr.

The Vicks Marketers

The Vicks Marketers

Vicks VapoRub

Vicks Chemical Company's most famous product was Vicks VapoRub.

Creation of CCL

The story begins in the twentieth century in North Carolina (U.S.A.), when Lunsford Richardson, with the help of his son H. Smith Richardson, founded a company to sell and distribute a series of home remedies he had invented as a small town pharmacist. The company, built around one of these remedies, Vicks VapoRub, a salve containing menthol that relieved head and chest congestion, eventually grew into the Vick Chemical Company.

The vision for CCL® belonged to H. Smith Richardson, who - as the family business grew - became its principal shareholder. Richardson was concerned about the sustainability of family firms like his own, observing that new leaders often failed after taking over from the previous generation. With the Vicks fortune, the Richardson family foundation began to fund scholars and behavioral scientists to study topics related to leadership and creativity.

In 1970, the Center for Creative Leadership was founded by this businessman to help meet the needs of businesses and, ultimately, all organizations. Since then, and for more than three decades, we have successfully combined a sustained investment in leadership research with an educational mission. The integration of behavioral science research and practical business application is the core of our mission and identity. Our rallying slogan is "ideas into action." Implied in that phrase - and just as important - is our commitment to "action into ideas."

We were named the Center for Creative Leadership because Richardson's vision and philosophy centered on boldness and what he called "cross-country thinking." Leadership, our founders believed, is about responding creatively to change, in order to avoid or overcome the usual pitfalls of leading an organization. "...It takes boldness to invest in programs of uncertain potentialities, but it is out of such support that some of the greatest discoveries have been made."

From Unconventional Wisdom: A Brief History of CCL's Pioneering Research and Innovation, by Sarah Glover and Meena Wilson (2006).