Creativity is change, whether radical or incremental. Change transforms industries and societies and drives growth and prosperity. Change is essential for survival and success. But change needs creative leaders. The old-style 'command and control' needs to give way to the creative leadership.
Commitment to change
Creative leaders are committed to change. They champion creativity and innovation. They have vision and align all members of an organisation or community behind it. Change happens when people are committed to drive and sustain it.
Resistance to change
Creative leaders overcome resistance to change. We are all attracted by the new, but we also need continuity to feel safe and secure. Our response to change depends on the culture in which we live and work, our age and education (the more educated we are the more we need creativity and change to feel stimulated and motivated). Creative leaders, therefore, target assumptions and fixed ideas in organisations or communities. They ask, “Why do we do things in this and not the other way?” They create a sense of urgency as opportunities open and close now more quickly than ever before. Leaders who act quickly when they see opportunities increase their organisations’ revenues by 37 per cent.
Creative leaders know how to establish innovation culture at their organisations or communities. Innovation culture is not about new ideas only. It is about destroying the barriers to creativity and innovation, the barriers such as bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness. Encouraging the 'outside-box' thinking, risk-taking and experimentation, creative leaders see failed ideas as learning. They decentralise organisational structure and build innovation around teams. Their workspace is conducive to creativity, and understanding that creativity is an investment; they think long-term.
Creative leaders know that the number one practice for successful innovation is a creative workforce. Up to 75 per cent of CEOs name creativity a top skill companies need, and report a shortage of creative employees. In Africa, 75 per cent of CEOs say that a lack of creative 'talent' threatens their companies' growth (Business Council for Africa, 2012). Able to connect knowledge across a wide range of disciplines, creative people cope better with the complexities of problem-solving. They are generally more open and flexible, self-sufficient and motivated by hard work.
Leaders that are creative, thus, prioritise developing creative employees. Breaking old behaviour and habits demands training. They also know how to motivate their creative workforce: finding the ‘change agents’, creative leaders give them choice and a ‘permission’ to act, ensuring and celebrating their success.
Creative leaders balance leading innovation with innovation management. Their understanding of the mechanisms of the innovation process — from stating problems in the ways that encourage creativity and selecting the right paths for innovation, to generating and evaluating ideas — is the essential factor to sustaining the innovation success.
Alla Tkachuk is a 'creativity for jobs and leadership' specialist. Contact for advice on creativity leadership, managing, and training at [email protected]