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Thinking without the box instead of inside the box 

Chris Griffiths and Melina Costi

Becoming a great leader is a skill that most individuals find difficult to master. Whether you’re running a team big or small, or have many years’ of experience in this field, a key component of being a leader is knowing how to inspire your team to be creative and innovative. Contributors Chris Griffiths and Melina Costi, authors –  The Creative Thinking Handbook 

However, being a creative role model is tough. Leading others with a creative style is an approach that, over the years, has been adopted by many managers. Creativity is now seen as the most important leadership quality, as found in an IBM study of over 1500 CEOs. Being a key driver of innovation and creativity within your company is important for achieving business goals. The same goes for your team, too. These modern ways of working are essential for organisations that want to keep growing and moving forward.  So, you’ve got creativity in your veins, but how do you relay this message to your team? 

Empower your team
In order for teams to achieve great success, they need to know how to work together effectively and think outside of boxed-in limits. But, encouraging the team starts with you. Shifting the attitude of team members will increase their motivation to succeed and work together to reach a common goal. As a leader, maintain a ‘can-do’ and ‘positive’ attitude to help the team embrace new experiences and challenge faulty assumptions in the business. By granting specific responsibilities to departments and individuals alike, they’ll feel empowered and motivated to get to work. 

Remember, how you conduct yourself has an impact on the people around you. Empower your employees to take action and make decisions. Set aside rigid job descriptions and specify goals, not methods, so people can take innovative risks without you standing over them or second guessing their every move. By doing so, they’ll be able to explore all of the options, even the most daring ones, for how best to solve a problem or tackle a looming task.

Welcome the failures
Winners fail more time than losers even try. Think about it, how many times have you learned from past mistakes? Being a creative leader means giving your team the freedom to go further with their ideas, which may not always turn into successes. When mistakes occur, and they undoubtedly will at some point, don’t reproach the people involved. Instead take stock of what happened and get together to discuss what you can learn for the future. Having the right tools and processes can help turn past mistakes into lessons. Instead of focusing on the negatives, and by using a well-balanced process, you’ll be able to guide your team towards new, successful and creative outcomes. 

Prioritise creativity
Innovation and creativity require a hands-off approach, but they still need support at the highest level. Grant ownership to members of your team so they can generate their own creative ideas for a particular area or pet project. A key concern is that many individuals don’t see themselves as the ‘creative’ type. If a few members of your team are feeling this way, inspire them to think differently by presenting the bigger-picture vision you have for the business, or a specific innovation project. 

Provide them with direction, without micromanaging, to help get their ideas started on the right path. Your job as a leader is to inspire those around you by ‘flying the flag’ for innovation and setting up an environment that supports it. Ensure you deliver your brief to your team with enthusiasm and excitement, and enough to get them thinking differently. 

Being an innovative and creative leader is an important factor when it comes to getting people working together to deliver new ideas and solve problems. Ensure you have the right processes in place, that you grant responsibility and have the correct mind-frame when revisiting and learning from past mistakes. 

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