Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse the impact of leadership on culture and on the structure of learning, and of these two constructs on the innovation capacity. Design/methodology/approach A quantitative study utilising a survey was carried out. By means of an ad hoc questionnaire, educational administrators were asked about some characteristics of their organisations. The authors have proven the model of research through a model of structural equations, that is, by means of the partial least squares technique. Findings The hypothesis is confirmed that leadership affects culture and learning structure, and both impact on the innovation capacity of schools. Practical implications This work addresses the role of three critical aspects in the management of educational organisationsleadership, culture and structurein the development of innovation that is essential in improving organisational development. Originality/value The role of leadership in the development of favourable conditions for innovation is verified, as is the impact of these conditions on the innovation capacity of educational organisations.