Creative Leadership, Part 2: Creativity
By Clark Corby
We have all had that moment when we have walked out of a piece of theatre, a band performance, an art gallery and have felt inspired. At the time, we are filled with conversation and original thoughts that drive us to make an artistic or practical change in our lives.
The disappointing fact about these moments is that many of them are brilliant, inspirational and motivating but they float away into the ether, lost to the idea of “I wish I was as creative as that person”. It is a sad moment for any human to feel socially obliged to not want to pursue creativity in any of its many forms just because they aren’t in a stereotypical creative career or atmosphere. Due to this, many amazing ideas have been lost in the world due to this pressure.
I truly believe that anyone and any team can be creative. There can be a common misconception with where the line is drawn on what creativity is.
A lot of people tend to stereotype the idea of creativity with artistic outlets: painting, theatre or writing, for example. In the grand scheme of things; as human beings, you don’t need to look that far back to understand that before this over-materialistic world has you getting clothes get delivered to your door, that we wove our own materials, built our own tables, and grew our own food. A lot of these people taught themselves these skills, there were little instructions, and it was all creativity.
The idea that to be a creative person means that you need to paint a picture needs to be removed from society, because creativity thrives in all of us, in many different forms, and can be applied to anything we do.
I started with this festival model incorporating creative leadership because I truly believe it is a prime example of how it is necessary to adapt the management of people within an organisation that is forever changing. Each and every year a festival adapts, it adapts its beliefs, its motivation, its creative outlet. It shifts with the people it is serving, from generational change to political change. With this, brings new challenges, new people, new worlds, new stories and brand new experiences. With this shift, the team changes too and new and different skills come and go with each contract. To not adapt is a way to possibly collapse. Every new team member can have their own way of achieving the same outcome, and to support that can be a strength.
It is one thing to adapt to change, but it is another to empower.
It is important to listen and observe your team’s energy. Empowering motivation to improve a process, create more efficient outcomes and strategies can encourage energy that will flow further then some might expect. Having the energy and leadership to move forward with a shift in process, even possibly at the worst of times, can encourage that form of thinking right through your team.
Instead of stomping on ideas, it is important to understand that by using this creative way of adapting and shifting processes, empowering your team to have this frame of mind from the very start will help evolve the way of thinking from the smallest to the largest of applications. Allowing the mind to feel free within an organisation, especially in such an ever-shifting environment allows for clearer and faster problem-solving. If you can empower someone from the start, they will feel confident in making a creative decision with demanding situations in the future.
Don’t lead with fear, this is incredibly important.
Humans make mistakes, no team member is there to sacrifice their own outcome or even reputation. It is never about blame, it is never about that mistake that happened. In a fast-paced environment in which a festival presents itself, it is always about the solution. Placing fear in a team to never be wrong is a recipe for disaster. The more clear and free a mind can be to make decisions quickly, the less likely they will be incorrect in the first place. One of the biggest barriers is fear, and while failure comes with the territory, fear shouldn’t have to.
The goal then is to uncouple fear and failure, to make an environment where making mistakes don’t strike terror into your employees.
Management and leadership in this environment can quickly tire even the strongest of minds. Having to constantly shift your own ideals to accommodate a different team can be tough. Some people would argue that as a leader, that your ideals should be the one thing that glues it all, that your ideals should be constant in order to continue to deliver a standard, here is where I disagree. Just like the festival is constantly shifting to adapt to generational or political change, shifting management ideals and leadership qualities is just as refreshing for you and your team.
Creative leadership harnesses the power of strength and weakness from every corner of the room, it is about being a chameleon in your environment.
Sometimes you will need to be a leader and sometimes you will need to be a follower, sometimes you will take control and other times you will let the team control itself.
Good creative leaders don’t dictate from a high, they reach out, they listen, they wrangle, they coax. Be candid, let your team speak, let them solve, and don’t dismiss any ideas, it is not a leaders job to manage risks, it is a leaders job to make it safe to take them.
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