The following post is written by Erin Palmer, a recent college graduate. When she contacted me to ask if she could write a guest post on creativity and leadership, I was thrilled because of her point of view: that of the follower, not the formal leader. Please read on to find out what this young, but already-savvy business professional has observed about leaders—from the other side of the leadership equation.
By Guest Columnist Erin Palmer
I used to teach “Mommy and Me” classes. Nothing tests leadership ability quite like getting a group of toddlers and their parents to do the Hokey Pokey. Obviously, the tactics that encourage a two year old are very different than what works for their parents. I could get the little ones moving with the simple promise of stamping a smiley face on their hands and feet after class. For the parents, I had to be more creative. I’d do whatever I could to keep them involved, from encouragement (“think of the calories you’re burning!”) to reminders (“it’s not as fun if you don’t participate!”) and everything in between. The truth about leadership is that there isn’t one correct way to inspire people. The best leaders know the importance of being creative.
An exceptional leader knows that it is vital to assemble creative teams. A leader who often comes up with innovative ideas is more likely to inspire a team to generate ideas of their own. Think of the ancient Greek philosophers. Socrates’ work inspired Plato. Plato used this inspiration in his teachings to Aristotle. Aristotle challenged these ideas and created his own assertions. A creative leader is more likely to have a team capable of generating their own ideas or expanding upon existing ones. At my current job, we have weekly meetings for sharing information. My boss introduces us to ideas and encourages us to share our own. By the end of the meeting, my notebook is full of new thoughts and tactics. This makes it easier to reach goals. If the team tries multiple strategies, we are more likely to achieve our goals than if we were just trying one thing over and over again. Our boss gets the best out of us by motivating us to be creative.
It is important for leaders to value creativity. Imaginative leadership can help improve the economic viability of a company, increase workplace satisfaction and support team success. An open-minded leader who has mastered the art of creative problem-solving can lead a company through any unforeseen challenges the future holds and come out successful. This is certainly true at my workplace: if a problem arises, my boss is not alone. Our entire team will brainstorm, experiment and discuss until we figure out a solution. At the end of the day, I go home satisfied knowing that I’ve contributed to our success. I don’t need a smiley face stamp on my hand to let me know that I’ve done a good job.
Erin Palmer is a writer and editor for Bisk Education. She works with University Alliance and the online programs at Villanova University. Villanova offers courses in organizational leadership, PMP certification and more. Check out their training resource page for informative articles about each subject. Feel free to reach out to Erin on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.