What is Creative Leadership?

Why is it important to develop creative leadership?

In a world where technology is replacing a lot of human contribution, we should be looking ahead to see what skills will be helpful in the future. The majority of children who have just started school recently will work in jobs that don't even exist today.

Exploring and strengthening our creative leadership capabilities is an attempt to get most of ourselves and our teams today and prepare for a fast changing workplace.

What IS creative leadership?

Rama Gheerawo (Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design a the Royal College of Art) defines creative leadership as:

  • Empathy - Do you listen to others? Do you openly explore how your customers and your team feel, think and behave? Are you willing to truly accept that people may interpret the world differently from you?

  • Clarity - Do you understand deeply the direction of your organization/team and do you communicate it well to your team and stakeholders?

  • Creativity - Do you create an environment that allows people to use their skills and talents to create new solutions that are relevant?

First steps towards developing creative leadership

What is one small step you can take in advancing any of the above creative leadership traits?

Some of my suggestions include:

Increasing your empathy:

  • Listen actively (here is some advice on how, but the key is to not interrupt) the next time you are having a 1 on 1 meeting with someone from your team, a client or a stakeholder. Allow for more silence than you normally are used to.

  • Spend an hour on a more general catch up with a member of your team, a client or a stakeholder. Ask open-ended questions (e.g., How are you doing? How is your team doing? What challenges are you working through at the moment? How can we work better together?)

Increasing clarity:

  • Next time you delegate a task, ask the person 'Why do you think we are doing this?'. As Simon Sinek explains in his Ted Talk, people get motivated after understanding the purpose.

  • Next time a task is delegated to you, ask yourself 'Why do I think we are doing this?'.

Increasing your creativity:

  • Introduce more brainstorming to your team meetings, even if not absolutely necessary. Innovation agency IDEO share some brainstorming techniques and watch-outs here.

  • Withhold your concerns about risks and complications until later in your discussions

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