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How to Master the Art of Creativity as a Leader

Creativity is the most important trait of a leader in the 21st century. Here is a short guide to help enhance your creativity quotient.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, once said that leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence—and making sure your impact lasts even in your absence.

But what does being a leader mean today? How do you create an impact that lasts?  A recent study published by Fast Company.com revealed that creativity is the most important quality for a leader, followed by integrity and global thinking.

Today, leadership is no longer just about occupying a coveted senior position; it is so much more than that. Authority does not define a leader, aegis (supporting your subordinates) does. Position does not define a leader, passion does. The word “command” no longer sits at the top of a leader vocabulary, “creative” does.

Today’s organisations thrive on creativity and innovation, and as a leader you need to drive your organisation’s success by being innovative. You’ll need to constantly innovate, execute, and repeat.

So how does one become creative?
While some argue that creativity is a trait that is passed on to a person by their forefathers, many great leaders say that it is a skill that is acquired over time through patience, observation and endurance. In short, learning. This means it’s possible to learn how to be “creative.” Don’t believe us? Here are a few tips you can use to see if it works for you.

Stop Being Embarassed
Learning not to be conservative about your thoughts is a good way to succeed as creative leader, especially for those who report to someone senior.

During a Ted Talk session, Tim Brown, the CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO, gave the audience a small exercise. Every member of the audience was asked to draw the face of the person sitting next to them. The results were hilarious.

Most of the drawings resembled weird stone carvings you’re more likely to see on the walls of ancient temples. But it’s what happened after the exercise that was revealing: Almost everyone in the audience apologized to their neighbour for drawing their faces so horribly. In other words, they were embarrassed.

So, what was the lesson here? That it’s embarrassing to draw badly? No. The exercise revealed that when there was a lack of trust among people they become extremely sensitive about being judged.

And that’s what you need to beat if you want to let loose your creative genius. You have to build trust with the people around you.

As a leader it’s important that you get your employees to trust you, or else it will become very difficult for you to pass on your thoughts and ideas to your subordinates and even your superiors. If you are suppressing ideas simply because you are afraid of people’s judgment, then you are becoming a hurdle to your own creativity.

Test Yourself
One of the best ways to unleash your creativity is to make yourself uncomfortable. Do not just do what you are expected to do, because you know you can do that. Unless you test yourself, you will never be able to let out the creativity in you.

It’s hard to try something new, but believe in your intuition and instincts, as they are the basic foundation of creativity.

Testing yourself has another creative benefit. It helps you find what’s truly unique about yourself and what only you can offer the world. Every single person is unique in their own way. Some can run fast, others can stand for hours. Some can sell better, while others a good at procurement. Find out what’s peculiar about yourself and run with it.

Here’s a first step to testing yourself: Go to your documents folder and open those projects you have been pushing back because you thought it would take too much thinking to accomplish. You can be sure that once you start working, your creative juices will start flowing.

Encourage New Ideas

Another significant way to be a creative leader is to encourage creativity in others. The mere act of listening to the ideas of others, opens up your mind up to new avenues of thought and helps you question many existing constraints.

This trick works especially well when working with millennials. Their view of the world can be very different from the way traditional business leaders have taught the older generation to think. Once you’ve started on your journey towards being a more creative leader, you will realize that it has multiple benefits.

Often, traditional businesses are blamed for not pushing or encouraging employees to try unconventional ideas. The thinking is If it’s not broken, why fix it? It’s true that some methods of doing business have become major industry best practices.

But, having said that, business has changed; especially with immense technological advancements. And now it is imperative that business owners such as yourself realize that some problems are new by nature, and hence the approach to solving them should also be innovative.

It can be hard to change your ways, but if you never try, you’ll never know about the benefits that creativity can bring to your business.

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