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.