Leading Creatively: How to Create a Culture of Innovation

When leaders are asked what qualities they look for in an employee, most will include creativity among the traits they desire. But creativity in individuals is one thing—creating an organizational culture that fosters and supports creativity is a much taller order.

In The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle writes that “creative leadership appears to be mysterious, because we tend to regard creativity as a gift, as a quasi-magical ability to see things that do not yet exist and to invent them.” But this is misleading. As Coyle observes, creative leaders do not necessarily need to be artist-types. In fact, the most successful creative leaders are keen observers who listen rather than speak, and who encourage mistakes and failures, and are willing to take a background role while their team experiments.

There is no creativity without risk. Leading for creativity requires an environment in which many ideas can be generated, tested, and ultimately discarded. This means focusing on people and process instead of product. Nothing kills creativity like micromanagement.

Coyle explains that “building creative purpose isn’t really about creativity. It’s about building ownership, providing support, and aligning group energy toward the arduous, error-filled, ultimately fulfilling journey of making something new.” Ultimately, this requires a leader with courage and confidence who places an immense amount of trust in their team.

Building a team that will generate innovation also takes time. Establishing the relationships that will support a creative environment requires trial, error, and struggle. As your team overcomes challenges together, they will be more likely to take the risks necessary for inventing new approaches, products, and strategies.

Are you trying to foster innovation in your organization? Consulting a coach can help you identify aspects of your leadership style that may be inhibiting creative energy. A coach can also advise you on ways to offer more support to your most creative employees.

If you’re interested in discussing ways an executive coach can help you lead creatively, you can contact me via my websiteLinkedIn and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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