How Can Leaders Promote Creativity?

People often talk about “thinking outside the box” or “the need for innovation.” In some cases this can be achieved by a group that is allowed to think for themselves, in other instances an individual can come up with an idea everyone else didn’t think of. Whatever the way you get to a creative solution it is important for leaders to know how to encourage creativity.

Be supportive

One of the problems with encouraging a different mindset is that it can be at odds with the business environment. This is not simply a case of adding a pool table or some nice ferns- it is more about the mindset and finding ways to use it effectively.

For example let’s say that you are looking to sell ice cream. It is a particularly cold summer with a lot of rain. A creative person may look at this and think “We could focus on selling to places that are not dependent on the weather, such as theatre and cinemas.”

Encourage a team approach

Some people in a team can feel threatened by creative individuals. It may be that their ideas at odds with how they do things or in some cases it may be a clash of personality.

The trick with this is to encourage a team approach early on. When you first meet the group ice breakers can help people get to know each other. Improvisation can be a great tool with this as well as the exercises can be fun but can also allow people to ease back on the logical side of the mind and instead adopt a more free-flowing approach to ideas.

Keep them stimulated

It can be difficult to keep someone with a more imaginative approach occupied. This is not to go with the “tortured artist” cliché but often they may find it harder to do certain types of work and this may mean they find it harder to stay focused. This is why it is important to consider what roles people play and whether they are suited to the particular tasks you give them.

Equally this can work the other way as well- someone who is very organised may not necessarily be confident over the phone so would be better suited to an admin role rather than a sales role. This doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong and ultimately it is about finding the most appropriate roles for the individuals in your team.

Let people learn from their mistakes

This is arguably one of the more difficult aspects because as you are expecting people to fail. In an exercise you should look at what happens when a task goes wrong and offer feedback- it is about getting people to use their skills and adapt.

A constant process

Of course feedback can work the other way as well- a creative person may have noticed a way to make your work process more efficient but may find it intimidating (again it is a cliché but some creative people can also be very introverted).

Using anonymous feedback forms, surveys and suggestion boxes can be just a few of the ways to encourage a dialogue. In short if you can create the right team ethos and environment you can help creative individuals flourish.


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