Unleash Your Creative Leadership

  • Post author:
  • Post category:blog
  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:6 mins read

What comes to mind when you think about leadership and creativity?  Both topics have been on my mind a lot lately as I prepare for an upcoming workshop I am conducting. While leadership and creativity are very common attributes, I used to think of them as having very separate identities – like good steak and polka dot sprinkles, they are both good, they just don’t go together.  Or do they? Can you be a good leader and not very creative? Probably not.  What about very creative and a poor leader? Probably yes. And what happens when we combine strong leadership with high creativity?  Magic – but it took me a while to see it.

I used to think of creativity as being fun but not necessarily for grown-ups.  I was aware of things like the iPod and I mostly thought of it as a business product; I had lost sight of the creativity and innovation inherent in making this great product possible.  Business products didn’t necessarily fit into my old belief systems about creativity.  I thought of creativity as art, music, cooking, crafts, singing, and the like.  As a result, I thought these things didn’t really happen so much in the workplace unless someone was in a certain type of job.  I really thought of creativity as an after-hours pursuit, something done when people have time to set aside their “serious” jobs and explore fun things. It was only in the last 3-4 years that I started to see how much creativity was a part of my day-to-day life and could be even more so when I paid a little attention to it.

And, what about leadership? The best leaders I have known had strong leadership skills and high degrees of creativity.  It may not be the type of creativity that wears a beret and does stand-up comedy but creativity that allows a leader to see things at a very deep level.  It may mean looking at seemingly disparate information and having the capability to translate that into a meaningful message to others.  It may be seeing or almost sensing the future of what could be and inspiring others to see it, too.

Whether you see yourself as a creative who wants to build leadership skills or a leader who wants to see more deeply, be more inventive, now is the time to unleash both of these aspects of you.

The Language of Your Creativity and Leadership Quotient (CLQ)

Recognize that you are inherently a creative  – we all are, we just lose sight of it along the way sometimes. Humans are wired for creativity and innovation and we get there through language, climate, and action.  What is the language of creativity?  Start by noticing the areas where “your” creativity really sparkles – whether that’s in the kitchen or with a spreadsheet.  Speak it out loud.  For example, say in a staff meeting, “Yes, and then I came up with this really creative idea of how the numbers will play out if we just increase web traffic. “

Notice when you are in your flow of creativity, whether that’s cooking dinner (creative doesn’t have to be all in work or play) or dancing in the bedroom. These types of activities are allowing your brain to access different types of sensation then the spreadsheet work. In a sense, you are building your creativity by transitioning into other creative tasks and not being single-focused.  Think of all the areas in your daily life where you might be doing something creative or have the potential to do so, amplify them where you can, and give yourself credit for all of it! Declare it to yourself and others.

The use of positive language also applies leadership, so notice when you play a leadership role, even if you don’t have the title of leader.  I used to see this often in the project management community.  A project manager would say, “Yes, but I am not a functional manager and therefore I am not a leader.”  This was so far from the truth.  When you are guiding and directing groups of disparate individuals who do not report to you, in delivering multimillion dollar projects, you are definitely a leader! So whether it’s being a parent, running the PTA meeting, or leading a church group activity, notice where you are a leader and call yourself one even if no one else does.

A Climate of CLQ

How can climate play a part?  Create a climate of leadership and creativity.  Creativity occurs at its best when we feel openness to be ourselves and share ideas without judgment.  Yes, eventually we may want to narrow those ideas down into action.  Until then, work on creating a climate of ideas.  Maybe over dinner or at the start of a staff meeting – allow 5 minutes of just free flow of ideas.  It may be about the upcoming offsite, a vacation, leadership pursuits, and the garden you wish to create.  Work in possibilities, not feasibilities.  Eventually, feasibility will come into play but when something is intriguing and we become passionate about it, we will always solve for feasibility. As humans, we are great at solving for feasibility but when we put feasibility first, we lose out on a lot of great ideas.

Taking Action

The last piece of unleashing your creativity and leadership is to take action.  The best ideas in the world are simply ideas if there is no action.  This is often where the best ideas break down because they never get expressed and taken to action.  When you have an idea or thought and you feel that tug inside of “I want to say this but I am afraid people will think it is a dumb idea” this is the time to push yourself to say it anyway.  Innovation occurs at the intersection of climate, creativity, and action.  I would argue that great leadership occurs here as well. Without expressing your idea, you minimize the potential for action, especially that action that may just lead to your idea being the next big thing.

What are some examples of great leadership or creativity you have seen?

What are some things you will do to grow your own creativity and leadership?

Leave a Reply