The fun of creative leadership

The fun of creative leadership

You could be heading a large multinational organization – or a small division of one. You could be a commercial entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur, or the head of a government department. In today’s competitive workplace: A business leader has to be creative.

The last 15+ years have seen organizations of all sizes focus on creativity as the key competency requirement, especially at senior and leadership levels. The business leader’s creativity should, among other things, lead to new business ideas or alternative ways to solve problems, improve existing processes or methods of interaction.

No matter who you are, or how serious and unimaginative you seem as a person, you really can’t be a creative leader unless you enjoy it.

For any who feel they really don’t have it in them to be creative, this adds pressure on an already overloaded expectations basket. On top of all that we’re supposed to have fun? Quite daunting.

But here’s the point – we do have it in us. Creativity doesn’t only mean coming up with original ideas – it is actually more about making new connections between existing ideas. If you already have it in you, you need to learn how to let it out.

Arguably one of the most creative business leaders in modern times, Steve Jobs’ mantra for being a creative leader is to go out there and have different experiences. Multiple experiences help people make unusual connections and these lead to innovative ideas. Of course, it may not be advisable to follow his fairly drastic path of different experiences.

Injecting a little creativity in yourself can actually be much easier, healthier – and fun.

One of the things most often discussed when talking about improving creativity is the power of observation. Start paying attention to the minute details of everyday life. For example, how many servers do you make eye contact with and smile when buying lunch/coffee/drinks? Which sleeve do you put your arm in through first – right or left? How many colleagues are wearing blue? Noticing such common, everyday things and thinking about them helps you become more receptive to making interesting connections, and, let’s face it, it’s definitely more fun than thinking about that colleague you need to sack.

Another aspect to new experiences is meeting new people. Very often our lives have settled into a routine of meeting the same people every day at work, socializing within comfortable, established circles of friends and family outside work, and our interactions are quite predictable.

Shake it up a bit. Force your attention away from the mobile device and chat with the taxi driver. You don’t like watching plays – but go to one with friends. You’re too busy to do the football practice run for your kids … go one weekend, chat with the other parents. Vacation time is another wonderful opportunity to visit a new place, have lots of exciting experiences and interactions.

Your stack of new experiences will grow bigger every day, and with it your abilities as a creative leader.

And isn’t it fun?