Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Creative Leader

Last fall at a professional conference I led a workshop called The Creative Leader. I've repeated the same workshop with other groups since then and I've been intrigued by some of the insights and comments that have come my way in each of them.

The first insight happened when I heard myself saying to the first group that I had just realized that the title "Creative Leader" was redundant. It's not possible to be an effective leader if you don't exercise creativity of some sort. I suspect most of the people in that session either considered themselves leaders or someone else did and yet less than half of them raised their hands when I asked if they thought they were creative. Again and again, I realize how limited and limiting our ideas about creativity are. We rarely hear leadership talked about as a creative act, let alone a creative art and yet we consider vision a key leadership skill. Isn't vision the ability to imagine something different, a new product, a new process, a new something? Leaders are supposed to help us solve our problems and to do that, they have to be able to think of different ways of being, interacting, of working on the issue at hand. Yet, again, we rarely credit that as creativity.

Leadership and creativity go hand-in-hand. We shortchange ourselves and the people with whom we interact when we don't acknowledge acts of creativity. Denying our own creativity, we don't recognize it, let alone encourage it, in others. As a result we miss opportunities to make positive change, to develop healthy work places, to make our work more enjoyable, the list goes on and on.

Where have you seen creative leadership? What supports or hinders your ability to be creative in your work (paid or otherwise.)? Any chance it's just your definition that's getting in your way? I'm curious to hear your insights and comments. Next time I'll share some more of mine.

Best wishes,


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Moment of Reflection

Unfortunately, too often it’s the people’s failures that get them to reflect on their experiences. When you’re going along and everything is working well, you don’t sit down and reflect. Which is exactly the moment when you should do it.” ~ Warren Bennis quoting Barbara Corday

Here's a simple quick way to add some times of reflection into your day.

First, grab a sheet of paper and a pen and place them both next to your keyboard.

Next, pick one meeting or conversation that you had today. It could be a meeting that went well or one that was difficult. Your choice, and there is no right or wrong. Just grab the first one that came to mind when you read the first sentence of this paragraph.

As you read this sentence, take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. I’m willing to bet that, whether you intended it or not, just reading that sentence helped your breathing change. Try it one more time – deep breath in and deep breath out.

Now, pick up your pen and on your sheet of paper answer these two questions about the meeting or conversation you selected. (And yes, I really mean write it down. The act of writing helps focus our thoughts and helps us articulate those thoughts more fully. Then our ideas are captured and we remember them more accurately.)

1) What’s one thing I learned from this meeting/conversation?

2) What’s one question I still have?

Simple, isn't it? Reflection is an important leadership task that we make harder than it actually is. Try this every day for the week and at the end of the week spend just a bit longer and see what you have learned. I promise - it's worth the effort.

Best of luck,