Creative Leadership Skills Deliver Competitive Edge
What do you think of when you hear the words ‘creativity’ and ‘leadership’? Most people don’t consider creative leadership to be a thing – but it really is. And in this crazy world in which we live, it pays to have creative leadership skills.
What is leadership?
If you look up the word ‘leadership’ in a dictionary, you’ll find a definition that reads something like, ‘The action of leading a group of people or an organization’. Doesn’t tell you much, does it?
If you watch a team sport, you’ll often hear the commentator say that ‘this player is a real leader in this team’. Yet this player isn’t the designated captain. Leadership, then, is far more than a hierarchical position. It’s a role which a person plays to influence others and motivate them toward the achievement of a personal or collective goal.
Leaders help others in the quest for problem solving. They look at obstacles and develop strategies to overcome them. They analyze circumstance, see the shift, and offer new approaches with the clarity to engage team members in developing innovative ideas for complex problems. Can you do this without being creative?
The answer is no. Therefore, we should consider that business leaders who possess the ability to create innovative solutions are likely to be those with the ability to improve the bottom line.
Why creativity, and why today?
Today, change is more than a constant. Not only are we navigating an environment in which your people are fearful of automation changing how they work; the nature of work is changing too, and new industries will boom. The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting consumer habits and shaping a world in which more work is done at home. The landscape is increasingly competitive and uncertain.
With this backdrop, old methods and procedures are necessarily being replaced by more agility and creativity in leadership styles as business models adapt at pace. Creativity leadership is key to delivering results, as McKinsey Digital learned in 2017 when it developed its Award Creativity Scores (ACS). It found that creative leaders of companies in the top quartile of ACS performed better on three key measures:
67% had above-average organic revenue growth
70% had above-average return to shareholders
74% had above-average net enterprise value
In short, creative leaders deliver envious competitive edge by helping their people see profitable opportunities instead of insurmountable challenges.
How do you develop creative leadership skills?
Creative types can be developed, but they must be engendered by your organization’s culture. Your people – not only your leaders – should be encouraged to experiment, fail early, and iterate approaches to work.
To drive continuous change, leaders must foster greater collaboration with participative leadership with a creative process encouraged across cultures. The sharing of ideas should be encouraged, too, using collaborative tools and management techniques to help remote teams work more closely.
Leaders should encourage healthy competition and recognize people for their creative contributions to improve creative input from their teams. It is not the leader’s role to micromanage. Long-term creativity is driven by leaders who demonstrate creativity and inspire others to be innovative.
4 Strategies to develop your organization’s creative leadership skills
Here are four strategies that you can adopt from today to inspire creative leadership within your organization:
Hire for diversity
Different perspectives will help your teams to think out of the box. This will help to motivate broader thinking toward complex problems, encouraging the sharing of ideas and development of innovative solutions.
Encourage continuous learning
Help people to develop their own creative thinking by encouraging them to become continuous learners. Leadership courses that teach innovative thinking can be augmented by in-house efforts, such as game play and role play team meetings.
Utilize your current leaders to mentor people, and encourage a culture in which decisions are expected to be questioned, discussed, and improved.
Use every opportunity to move away from micromanagement and encourage team autonomy. Start each day with a brainstorm session, and provide the tools that make it easy for people to collaborate and share their ideas.
Share the big picture
Share the big picture with your team. Provide forums in which this can be discussed, and help your team by letting them know that their contributions matter. Ask for their thoughts and ideas, and help them to create solutions to problems during periods of change.
Are your people ready to lead creatively?
When your organization develops creativity, it will be equipped to deliver the benefits of creativity. Your teams will be more innovative, work more collaboratively, and be more likely to attain their goals. During periods of change, your people will accept opportunities instead of surrender to challenges.
Creative leaders help their teams to be creative and thus create roadmaps for success that less creative organizations will never ideate.
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