Forbes article: Creativity: The Secret To Better Leadership

This is a repost of my original article from April 11, 2019 on Forbes as part of the Forbes Agency Council. To read the full article, please click on the link below the excerpt.

I’ve noticed that many leaders seem to struggle with creativity; instead, they opt for clear-cut and rational decision making. However, effective leadership can require inspiration, which is often better evoked through curiosity and imagination rather than pragmatism. Leaders need followers in order to lead, and without the enrollment of their teams, pragmatic leaders risk standing alone.

Exploring new attitudes toward creativity in the workplace — and alternatives to traditional top-down leadership styles and structures — can help foster more creative ways to lead.

Create The Conditions For Creativity

In an innovation-driven economy, ideas are valuable currency. So how can a leader inspire the best ideas from their team and from themselves?

To get the quality and quantity of ideas required to generate new creative pathways, we often need an environment that inspires the flow of curiosity, deep thinking, imagination and different perspectives. This can require leaders to let go of traditional ideas about what it means to be in control and relinquish that control to others.

Leading to inspire creativity also can mean fostering the belief that everyone is creative and empowering them with tools to fight the voice inside that tells them they don’t possess the skill to be creative. This can be accomplished by simply changing the language that we use with our teams. A shift in conversation from “No, but … ” to “Yes, and … ” can allow room for generating ideas and spotting those that are valuable instead of shutting down ideas before they ever have a chance to develop. Such a change in language can build trust and make room for those with quieter voices to be heard. When curiosity leads the conversation in a safe space without judgment, we can start tapping into the place inside of us all where the real creativity lies.

Get Out Of Your Own Way

Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger when worked regularly. It can sometimes require exploring alternative methods that get us out of our heads, away from the thinking world and into the realm of feeling.

Here are some of my favorite methods to get into a creative state:

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