Creative leadership is what makes the world move. Without creative geniuses, we will still be living in caves! From a simple pencil to the ultimate computer, all of what surrounds us is possible because of the hard work of people who, besides being filled with knowledge, were also bold enough to think differently.
In the workplace environment, creative leadership encourages innovation at the full stern by building teams who dare to think outside the box.
There is this misconception that creativity is only for people related to art, who like to paint and are artsy with everything they touch. But creativity has a broad definition that applies to many different areas.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, creativity is defined as: ‘’The ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas’’.
What is Creative Leadership?
Many leaders, especially those who have overseen teams and companies for a long time, have built their book of rules on what to do and avoid. By experience, they’ve discovered the leadership style that works out best for them is.
However, many of them still play by the old rules of monotony and structured hierarchy in organizations. And, when doing so, they tend to destroy creativity.
This somehow is understandable because years ago, a successful leader’s skills were mainly intelligence, vision, passion, communication, management, etc. These skills are equally important these days. However, because the world is evolving fast, leaders need more than just being great communicators. They need to be creative in how they adapt.
A study conducted by IBM, with over 1500 CEOs as respondents, revealed that creativity is the most important leadership quality.
Creative leadership is based on the concept of building collaborative teams to develop innovative ideas. But it’s not only about innovation and creating new things; it’s also about being able to adapt to a world that continually changes.
For businesses to survive they need to change the way they do things, and in some cases, even rethink their own business structure.
Creative leaders are aware of this, but they don’t only want to survive; they want to thrive. Therefore, they create conditions for inspiring creativity in their teams to evolve and grow. They focus on challenging their employees by encouraging them to work as a team for a common goal. But not in the traditional way, they create an environment that promotes innovating thinking and mission-driven management.
Here are 5 practical tips for becoming a creative leader:
1. It’s Not About You
Don’t think that you are the one responsible for all the creativity. Or that because you’re the creative leader, you’re the master of everything. The main objective of creative leadership is to build a collaborative environment to expand creativity and knowledge. And to encourage employees to push their boundaries on how they solve problems or come up with ideas.
Being a creative leader is not about you; it’s about your team.
2. Have a Diverse team
One of the best ways that creativity can flourish in your team is by having diverse employees. What’s the point of thinking about new approaches if all your team members think alike? According to research, companies that encourage racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to perform at a higher level.
Having diversity in the workplace leads to a healthy debate on new ways of doing things in the team. Diverse teams constantly challenge their creativity by thinking about new ideas, solutions, and processes.
How to build a diverse team? By opening the door to all types of candidates, either by hiring remotely or seeking different candidates through remote job websites.
3. Encourage Failure
What’s the best way to encourage failure? By rewarding creativity. Encouraging failure is not about literally telling your team to fail. It’s more of a management strategy that opens a space to mistakes but intending to learn from them and overcome them with better ideas.
One of the top reasons why people fear being creative in a professional setting is because of failure. For many, thinking outside the box means getting outside of the comfort zone.
There are many great minds paralyzed with fear. When you inspire your team to be creative by rewarding new and great ideas, all your employees will be encouraged to be better.
4. Build a Collaborative Culture
Ideas are executed by a team, not individuals. Someone can come up with a millionaire idea, but with the wrong people on the team, that idea will never become a reality.
Building a collaborative culture is mainly encouraging each member of the team to speak up, but also to listen to others. There are many great ways of doing this, such as creative meetings or different activities to connect teams. If you are in a remote company, you could implement virtual water cooler activities and be consistent with your feedback meetings, for example.
5. Make Time for Creativity
Being creative is not about having divine inspiration to do things. To magically have these amazing ideas for your team. Creativity is also a discipline.
Encourage your team members to make room for creativity daily. Many successful leaders take an hour a day to think. For example, Bill Gates takes ‘’think weeks’’ where twice a year, he goes by himself to a cabin in the woods with the purpose of thinking.
In your team, creativity can be developed in different forms. Debates and creativity sessions are a great way, but also by teaching each member that taking time to think and doing other enriching activities opens the door for new ideas.
Build Your Creative Leadership Team
Creative leadership is a philosophy (and strategy) that helps leaders to encourage creativity and innovation in their teams. These practical tips can serve you as a guideline to build a collaborative team that can thrive and adapt to all kinds of changes and technologies with original and diverse approaches.