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The Three Strategic Roles of Creative Leaders

Out of Our Minds, by Ken Robinson should be your new best source when you think about creativity. I've recommended it before but just in case you haven't read it yet, here are his three roles and nine principles for creative leaders - along with a few of my own questions, in italics.

  • The first role of the creative leader is to facilitate the creative abilities of every member of the organization.

  • They do this first by recognizing that everyone has creative potential. Ask yourself if you really believe this about each member of your team.

  • They recognize innovation is the child of imagination. How do you capture the imagination of your team?

  • They believe we can all learn to be more creative. What are you doing to help everyone in your team develop their creative abilities?

  • The second role of creative leaders is to form and facilitate dynamic creative teams.

  • They know that creativity thrives on diversity. Do you encourage a diverse environment where innovation and experimentation can flourish or is conformity the norm?

  • They realize that creativity requires collaboration. What does collaboration look like where you are?

  • They understand that creativity takes time. How is your schedule structured? Is there time for ideas to surface and be developed?

  • The third role of a creative leader is to promote a general culture of innovation. (Because we're often unaware of the elements of our culture, this principle requires exceptional insight and effort.)

  • Creative cultures are supple. He cites an IBM study that concluded that, "creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate." How do you balance continuity and innovation?

  • Creative cultures are inquiring. Being creative isn't all about chaos and risk. Creativity in any domain is a balance of freedom and control. This is seen in the ability to be decisive and direct while being willing to listen and positively consider other viewpoints. Does your culture truly value these other viewpoints?

  • Creative cultures need creative spaces. Our physical environment is a powerful embodiment of organizational culture. Does your workspace encourage the kind of culture you want?

The success of your business or organization, as well as your own personal growth depends on creativity. It's not just for the gifted few. It's a skill and a process you can learn and develop.

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