Creative Leadership Development
By TRISOFT team
Becoming a leader takes courage and determination. Becoming a great leader requires a step more — creativity.
It’s not easy being a leader. There is much debate on the innate vs. acquired quality of leadership. Some say you have to have it in you. Others are sure that this is a skill anyone who is committed to the task can master. We give credit to both groups, but tend to favor the latter as we’ve actually seen in our professional experience ordinary people who have one day decided to do extraordinary things. And they succeeded. What did they have that led them to success? Courage, for one thing. But also creativity — the kind you need to actively nurture and practice. A few years ago, IBM conducted a study which concluded that the most important skill for a business owner in difficult times is creativity.
Modern vs. traditional
Creative leadership is the combination between creativity — the ability to generate new and valuable ideas — and leadership — the ability to put them into practice. Modern creative leaders are those who excel at developing and executing innovative or even unique ideas and strategies. As opposed to traditional leaders, who often get stuck dealing with incremental change.
Now traditional business wisdom is not a wrong path to follow, however the way in which a company owner implements their plans and chooses to approach his goals is decisive for the future of the business. Because, while it is okay to search for effective solutions while not being willing to disrupt the linear course of your actions in order to find a revolutionary idea, you are fenced in within a rigid frame.
However, even a leader who has been stuck in the traditional paradigms can overcome them and learn to be a creative leader. How? Through self-discipline, social skills, vision and practicality, and good judgement about these all. Most future creative leaders will spend years polishing the traditional skills, but with diligent effort, they can definitely surpass their personal and professional weaknesses and develop into great creative leaders.
A great example of the development of creative leadership is Steve Jobs. He had many bright ideas in his early years at Apple, but it wasn’t until later in his career that he actually mastered the art of executing on them and produce real blockbuster strategies. This is because creative leaders take time to develop and mature.
Job’s strategy was revolutionary and involved the integration of music hardware, software, and distribution into one seamless, beautifully crafted, consumer-friendly system. The iPod, iTunes & Apple store represent the brilliant solution that executed the brilliant strategy that Steve Jobs developed. Both his strategy and his execution were brilliant — the mark of a true creative leader.
Now that we have explored a bit on the idea of creative leadership, let’s see what it takes to develop the skills we need to become one. Here are 5 traits we have identified as common to all successful, creative-driven leaders.
1. Be the change you want to see in the world.
They say in life the only thing that stays the same is that in fact nothing stays the same. It goes for the natural world, for business or politics. Change is a constant coordinate, so if you are waiting for someone or something to push you towards your goals and magically turn you into a leader, you should definitely change your ways.
Think about Joan of Arc or Martin Luther King or the above mentioned Steve Jobs. They first fought with themselves, they changed their inner beings to the very core and then they acted towards changing the people around them. Such people have the ability to envision change when others don’t even understand it.
So in a way creative leaders are rebels, for they don’t let anyone decide what is best for them; they take matters into their own hands and fight to produce the change they dream of. The are doers. And sometimes this means going against institutions, against belief systems, against an entire society. This attitude is universally frowned upon, but that is precisely what makes a creative leader great — the strength to rattle cages, starting with one’s own.
2. Listen to your intuition.
Being smart and well prepared in your field of business are important traits that a leader has to have. However, being intuitive is an asset not many can brag about. Intellect without intuition is often encountered in business men who get by without any real impact on the world.
But if you want to be a creative leader, you need to start listening to your inner voice more. It’s true that in our society very little is left to the instinct and a lot more is based on knowledge and rationality in the process of problem solving and decision making. Yet the best leaders are those who realize that what they sense is sometimes more valuable than what they know. It’s the difference between what we know to be true and what we feel to be true. Listening to the voice of our intuition is how real breakthroughs happen.
3. Embrace progress.
As we talked about in our recent series of 5 articles, perfectionism can be quite a roadblock for a business. The obsession for getting every little detail right before moving on to the next step is dangerous and rarely applicable. For a creative leader perfection is knows as utopia. Instead, they strive for the real deal — which is progress.
No matter if your steps are small or big, it’s important to keep waking and embrace every challenge as a boost towards your goals. Will you make mistakes? Oh, yes, you will. But you will also learn and you will discover new levels of creativity you didn’t even know you can reach.
4. Stick by your convictions.
I am not afraid…I was born to do this — Joan of Arc
A person with convictions — why is that so hard to find in our times? Maybe it’s because we long for stability and security and we make the mistake of going by what we find outside ourselves, when we should be actually looking inside. When we guide ourselves by so many rules and regulations made by others, what we truly believe fades away and so we forget what we are really about.
A creative leader cultivates his or her convictions. They will look inside their soul and ask themselves repeatedly: What is it that makes me who I am? What is it that makes me happy? From here to things like sudden career change or amazing ideas put into practice — it’s just about a few steps more. The key is to find something that you feel you’re meant to do and give yourself a chance to it.
5. Be original.
Leaders have this in common: the ability to produce new ideas on a regular basis. Goethe used to say: Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. Sometimes their ideas fail too, but most of the time they are able to rise above the temporary failure and stubbornly come up with mind-blowing plans that set the course for others to follow.
In theory, all of us have the capacity to be original. We have it in us. But somehow few can explore it. The explanation is quite simple: when we have so many daily chores and demands to fulfil, it’s hard to save time and energy for something else. We use it all up on our routine. Thus we experience the exhausting work of living average lives and doing normal stuff. Basically, we are too tired from not being original, at all.
But if you want to become a creative leader, you need to free your originality. Just stop doing only what is expected of you and start doing what you think is good for you and maybe others too. Stop putting your plans and ideas on hold (until the perfect time comes! — not gonna happen) and start acting. Start today. Start now.
When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work, but awaken within the heart of men the desire for the vast and endless sea — Antoine De Saint Exupéry
So…yeah, being a leader is not easy. It takes courage and determination. At TRISOFT, we encourage our people to work towards their goals while trying to harmonize those to the company’s, and provide the tools they need to achieve them. We strive to create a shared vision for success that all can access and invest in. We encourage our people to start by being themselves and trust their capacities of becoming their own leader, to take pride in their ideas and work on their execution, to develop creative leadership as a means of self-knowledge and constant growth.