4 Ways to Be a More Creative Leader
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by | Apr 7, 2022 | Leader's Digest

Leaders should consistently take inventory of their skillset. After all, the most effective leaders are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Of all the skills and characteristics a successful manager must possess, problem-solving is likely the most important. Problem-solving can be applied to a wide variety of daily responsibilities (in work and life). Organizations should train and develop their leaders to ensure they have strategies and tactics in place to problem solve in an effective, natural, and creative fashion.

The International Institute for Management Development (IMD), one of the top graduate business schools in the world specializing in developing leaders and transforming organizations, named creativity and innovation as the third most important leadership skill to learn in 2022. Think about Apple – a spot-on example offered by IMD. Steve Jobs led the company with creativity and innovative thinking, resulting in a passionately loyal customer base and leaving Jobs with a legacy as one of the most influential leaders in tech history. Creativity is the core of business innovation, and innovation is the engine for growth on your teams and in your company.

Leaders should be encouraged to think and solve problems creatively to provide advantages to their respective organizations and teams and forge ahead of the competition. Creative leaders are authentic and passionate, turn challenges into opportunities, are confident about their abilities, are solution-oriented, and drive their team’s performance improvement.

Here are four ways to develop your creativity in today’s current business climate:

Focus on Communication

Most organizations train leaders and managers on technical skills first, because they are extremely important. How to access reports, submit documents, utilize new tech are all essential skills for a leader to understand. Yet, communication and other soft skills should be trained and leveraged to ensure leaders are cultivating innovative cultures.

Hone Creative Leadership Skills

Being a creative leader requires you to develop certain skills that will support your goals. Some of these might include determining when it’s appropriate to take risks, encouraging collaboration amongst your team members, expressing openness to new and potentially unconventional ideas, and providing constructive feedback that inspires (rather than disheartens) your team members.

The skills listed above will also help you to effectively address any organizational problems that are hindering growth. For example, leaders who have mastered creative leadership skills can find unique ways to manage teams or departments struggling to work together cohesively (maybe due to clashing personalities, tech issues, contrasting opinions, etc.).

Schedule Time

It’s easy for managers to get caught up and bogged down. A lot of a manager’s day is spent on other people’s schedules, too. So, it can be hard to be creative unless you are blocking out the time to think and strategize—meeting, email, and interruption-free. Have you heard of Google’s 20% rule? This is a great example of how allocating dedicated creative time is a winning strategy.

Switch Up Your Scenery and Take Time Off

This could be as simple as going outside for a walk or taking your meeting in a different location one day. You are going to think differently sitting around your office’s conference room table then you are sitting in a local coffee shop or in front of the art you have chosen to hang in your home. So, next time you want to have a far-reaching conversation, don’t do it in the same place where you crunch your budget. Also, switch up your scenery with some time off from work. This will help you use your imagination, rest and restore your mind, and put some distance between you and any projects you may be stuck on, among many other things.

Organizations that take a one-dimensional approach to virtually any type of corporate strategy will rarely position themselves for long-term success or performance improvements. This is especially true when it comes to leadership development, as creativity is only one of many characteristics and skills of effective leadership. One last point around creativity in leadership is that the better a manager thinks creatively, the more successful their employees will be because the best way to teach creativity is to model it.

A lot of business and sales leaders are trained in linear thinking. They know how to devise strategies for growing their businesses and increasing efficiencies and are taught how to coach their direct reports according to a straightforward model. They are not trained to come up with creative ideas that reshape their current realities. But this type of thinking is critical, and creative leadership and following the tips above can help.

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