Another Leadership Skill – Setting The Stage For Creativity

Leaders can emerge from anywhere in the library organization. Those who lead staff at any level recognize the importance of bringing together the right people, and orchestrating their efforts toward a common goal. Now comes an article that encourages these same leaders to manage the creativity generated in the organization. Creativity is critical to the development of new programs and services. So it is in the best interest of leaders to design and develop a work enviroment that promotes creativity. I’m going to attempt to summarize the key ideas from a Harvard Business Review article on “Creativity and the Role of the Leader“.  The article appears in the October 2008 issue if HBR. Here are several things you can do to help your colleagues and organization to foster greater creativity.

Draw on the right minds – Engage the right people, at the right times, to the right degree in creative work. Distribute creative responsibilities across the organization. Avoid the myth of the “lone creative genius”; get staff collaborating. Creativity and innovation are more likely to ingnite when people of different disciplines, backgrounds and areas of expertise share their thinking.

Bring Process to Bear – Carefully – Organizational creativity depends on vibrant, ongoing collaboration and free idea flow; adding people and projects restricts the flow. The leader’s job is to map out the stages of innovation and recognize that each one requires different types of support. Idea generation and idea implementation are best handled by different people. Leaders must guide ideas through the bureaucracy. Leaders need to filter creative ideas; find the ones that have little potential and weed them out.

Fan the Flames of Motivation – Intellectual challenge is a better motivator for creativity than salary or benefits. Leaders must find ways to provide intellectual challenges and independence; allow people to pursue their passions. Leaders let others know they appreciate their work. Decrease the fear of failure to increase creativity.

These ideas and others presented in the article emerged from a colloquium held at Harvard University. Attendees included business leaders from organizations that depend heavily on the contributions of creative minds. The participants came to the conclusion that more work needs to be completed to understand creativity in the organization.

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