There has been much discussion around AI recently, particularly the fear that chatbots will replace entire industries with the stroke of a key. I don’t share that belief; while AI can certainly be a powerful crowdsourcing tool of existing information, there is no replacing the very human trait of creativity which has driven our evolution.
Yet paradoxically, while many companies say they value innovation, very few invest in the factors that foster creative mindsets that result in innovation. As a leader, creativity – both in your role and within your team – is essential for maintaining your company’s competitive edge and achieving long-term success.
Creativity is the ability to generate new and groundbreaking ideas, challenge conventional wisdom, and anticipate future changes in your industry. Creative leaders inspire teams to experiment and risk-taking. Creative leaders build an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and taking ownership of their work. And most importantly, creative leaders create more creative leaders.
The good news is that creativity can be developed and nurtured over time. Read on for practices to help you increase your own creativity as well as those of your colleagues.
Practice for You
One of the greatest threats to creativity is stress – and yet, stress is part of the daily job. If you find yourself in a rut and under pressure, try this exercise to shift your perspective and open up your creative thinking and access a different area of your brain. All you need is a pen and paper.
Step 1: Think about a current business challenge. Write that challenge down in the form of a question using your dominant hand.
Step 2: Now take your pen and place it in your non-dominant hand. Next read your question and write a response with your non-dominant hand. Don’t worry about your penmanship as long as you can read your response clearly.
Step 3: Try repeating the question and see if your written response varies. Try asking a different question and see if you feel your answers coming more easily.
Step 4: Leverage this new state of mind and sense of flow to start a new project for the next half hour.
Practice for Your Team
Fostering creativity in your team requires more than simply supplying a whiteboard and color pens. How you model leveraging creativity in your daily work life will have a profound impact on how your team prioritizes this mindset. Consider the following practices to try with your team:
Embrace curiosity: Encourage your team members to ask questions, explore new ideas, and challenge assumptions.
Foster experimentation: Create an environment that encourages exploration and risk-taking. Give your team members the freedom to try new things, and don't punish them if they fail.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help leaders quiet their minds and tap into their creativity. Encourage your team members to take breaks throughout the day to clear their minds and think creatively.
Seek out diverse perspectives: Encourage your team members to seek out diverse viewpoints and collaborate with people from different backgrounds and disciplines.
A Spark of Joy
When we allow ourselves to tap into our creative genius, we light a spark of joy that is contagious.
A Different View
Enjoy this recent LinkedIn Live with my creative partner, Marina Kurikhina, on how to alchemize creativity to support a more high-performing team.
Executive Coaching and Leadership Development