The 4 Principles Of Creative Leadership

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As a leader, managing a team is no easy task. One of the hardest things today’s leaders face is the bureaucracy dominating modern enterprises. High-growth companies favour rank, strategy and procedures; leaving little room for innovation and creativity. If you’re a manager who wants to lead creatively, nurturing individuals and building their creative confidence can prove game-changing. Leaders who value individualism and quality of work are more likely to ensure maximum results.

What is creative leadership?

Creative leadership is a style of leadership based on the concept that working cooperatively generates innovation and creative thinking. It’s creating a shared sense of enterprise, inspiring team members to embrace their entrepreneurial side. For leaders, running a creative team allows individuals to exercise their imagination as a key thought process. This opens up opportunities for more ideas, increased collaboration and frequent breakthroughs.

Creative leadership or being a creative leader has little to do with being in the creative or artistic field. Rather, it is the idea of embodying flexible thinking over the more authoritarian approach of traditional leadership.

Ways to lead creatively

When inspiration is lacking, individuals lose all creativity. Build collaboration and inspire creative thinking in your team by incorporating these principles:

1. Identify your team’s strengths

Everyone comes with their own innate skills, traits and abilities. Instead of throwing a one-size-fits-all approach to your team, take the time to identify their inherent strengths and weaknesses. Some people may be big picture thinkers but lack detail, while others might be detail-oriented but fail to see the big picture or plan for the long-term. Once you’ve identified each team member’s strengths, you can leverage them to create more collaborative work that will inevitably lead to greater innovation. 

2.  Foster a creative workplace

How can your team be creative when their environment doesn’t support creativity? As a creative leader, you can help foster a healthy team culture by providing a creative and supportive workplace for them to work in.

Inspire creativity by encouraging team members to decorate their own space. Bring in photos, plants, mood boards and artwork to help workers feel inspired by their surroundings.

One of the biggest struggles associated with creative fields and modern workplaces is the reliance on automation and artificial intelligence (AI). This stifles human ingenuity and innovation, which isn’t conducive to creative thinking. Encourage your team’s creativity, compassion, empathy and problem-solving skills wherever possible, as these are creative qualities that machines can’t produce. 

3. Introduce diversity

Inclusivity in the workplace is a key way to inspire creativity and creative leadership skills. Having a team from all experiences, ages, backgrounds, cultures and skin colours creates a wider range of thinking. People of different backgrounds can bring different ideas and perspectives to the table. Diversity really is the backbone of creativity. If possible, build a team from all backgrounds including people from other cultures and countries. A genuine inclusive environment encourages teamwork and collaboration, allowing for ideas to flow freely across all manner of departments. 

4. Provide freedom and flexibility

Sometimes a change of scenery or a shakeup in routine can inspire creative ideas.

Creative thinkers need periods of rest to recoup and regather. Creativity needs to be inspired, and inspired action can only come from a place of inner stillness. Try to find ways to break the monotony of the day by encouraging regular breaks or by getting the team together and venturing outside for your team meeting or lunch break.

Changing up your routine can also help to inspire creativity. This can include a ‘brainstorming hour’ where your team can work with a whiteboard or spend time brainstorming ideas and gathering inspiring quotes or pictures. You might want to encourage team members to give feedback on each other’s projects and facilitate anonymous suggestions by providing a suggestion box for workers to share their ideas or feedback.

Creative leadership requires out-of-the-box thinking. This means throwing out the old leadership rule book and replacing it with flexible, engaging and innovative collaboration. Prioritising your team and their strengths and experiences at work will only help to inspire their greatest potential. Traditional styles of leadership can be too restrictive and may result in teams feeling dictated to. When you work as a collaborator rather than an authoritative figure, you’re more likely to achieve individual leadership success. Get rid of structure in your leadership, and you’ll make way for a team that is more likely to achieve its goals.

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