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Friday, June 7, 2013

Crave Creativity? Here's How Leaders Can Encourage It

Innovation and its close sibling, creativity, comprise the Holy Grail for companies worldwide that are trying to work their way out of slow and slowing economies and attract wary consumers.

But the only way to guarantee a constant stream of meaningful innovation and an environment that encourages creativity is for leadership to organize and plan for it. So it was interesting to see a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day which offered ideas on how to do that.

"Creativity," wrote Justin Brady, a graphic-design-agency owner and speaker on the topic, "is not the product of gimmicks." Rather, he said a creative environment "comes from only one thing: leadership."

And in his experience, Brady found that creative environments are "cultivate by leaders" who do three things:

Listen: Actively listen, don't just "hear," Brady advised, "keep[ing] eye contact and strain[ing] to find meaning" in what the speaker is saying. "You discover insights that weren't obvious before."

Empathize: It "takes work" to "put [yourself] in the other person's shoes" but "this shift of focus is dynamic," he said, "and unlocks explosive creativity."

Trust: "Some ideas or concepts won't make sense to anyone but the innovator," Brady wrote, but "trusting is the final step of the creative process."

What do you think of these leadership criteria for "creating creativity"? Any that you would add?

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