Written By: Kayla E. Klos, Counsel at Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP
Inspiring creative thinking in others requires creative leadership. I recently had a conversation with a chief executive officer who wished her management team challenged her more because she believes it will lead to better, more thoughtful solutions that benefit the company, the employees and herself. As an effective leader, she is not satisfied with surrounding herself with “yes” sayers. She recognizes the benefits of inspiring those in her company to be confident to challenge her and the organizational norms – but is unsure of how to get those results. The answer lies in being a creative leader.
Creative thinking often describes an approach or way of tackling a problem that is novel or new in some respect. How many groups have you participated in where one strong personality drove the process, the ideas and the results? Did you believe that such a process achieved the best outcome? An effective team avoids “group think,” where everyone says yes and goes along with the strongest or loudest voice in the room. Successful groups also foster good communication, focusing on ways to encourage participation by all and to consider things differently to achieve the best outcomes. Whether it’s a team at work, a committee, a board, or even an employee working alone at her desk, the value of creative thinking and an environment that inspires it cannot be overstated. So how can we encourage others to be bold, take risks and share ideas that may not always go with the consensus but can often result in amazing successes?
As leaders, we need to allow an encouraging space for diverse perspectives to be heard and understand that good ideas can come from all levels of an organization. The basics hold true: there are no silly ideas or trivial questions. Creative leadership requires us to find ways to cultivate a culture that provides opportunities to present novel ideas, collaborate with others, ask difficult questions in a meaningful, non-threatening way, and demonstrate value for the input, whether through recognition or rewards. The creative leader inspires others by accepting challenges and recognizing innovative ideas.
It’s no secret that employees engaged in a positive creative problem-solving process develop a greater level of trust with each other, build positive relationships, develop a sense of empowerment and accountability which yields better results. Continual innovation in today’s competitive market is essential for building and continuing the success of an organization. In the end, a creative culture drives a process where everybody wins.