The Importance of Creative Leadership

February 01, 2018

Creative leadership drives productivity and fosters success in a company. 

Creativity is one of the most important qualities of a modern business leader.

Creativity itself is the abandonment of rigid structures, a very desirable trait for individuals in leadership positions to have in a corporate setting.

Creative leaders have the ability to look at things in new ways and solve problems by seeing things others don’t. Synonyms of creativity include words like inventiveness, imagination, innovation, vision, progressiveness, originality, and resourcefulness just to name a few.

All of these are characteristics of successful creative leaders who are changing our world today.

The role of creativity in leadership is vital to any organizations survival in the ever-changing business and cultural climate that exists today.

This article discusses the business benefits associated with creative leadership and how it can improve an organization. It also suggests strategies for leaders to improve and grow as creative leaders and help foster those leadership qualities in others.

Creativity Is the Most Important Leadership Quality

In 2010, IBM surveyed 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world. They found that creativity was ranked the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing integrity and global thinking.

Most Important Leadership Qualities

Source: Fast Company

There are many advantages to creative leadership within companies, including

  • Problem solving
  • Achieving growth
  • Mentoring teams in the workplace
  • Finding unlikely perspectives within the business

Each of the advantages of creative leadership and their applications to business are listed below.

New Types of Problem Solving

Creative leadership helps companies by opening up new opportunities for problem solving and growth that more conventional methods would not allow for. New perspectives on problems from a creative approach can lead to new and perhaps previously unheard-of solutions.

Achieving Goals and Growth

When leaders approach goals from a creative point of view, they gain the ability to reach goals more easily. A creative leader sees unique paths to reach these goals. Whether it is how to increase profit or expand product offerings, the creative leader has the ability to map out a path to reach new levels of success that other leaders within the company can’t see.

Fostering a Positive Workplace Mentality

As companies grow and processes change over time, lower-level staff can often feel ostracized or forgotten. Creative leadership presents a number of opportunities to remedy this mindset by implementing non-traditional techniques and ideas to include people and teams into the company’s success.

A creative leader might suggest having employees brainstorm ideas from their point of view, instead of taking ideas from the top. Employees don’t always have the same information as management, so seeing problems or innovating ideas from within could lead to new or profound ideas and information to help form solutions to problems.

Finding Unlikely Perspectives

In order to thrive, a company must grow, adapt, and create its own path to success. Creative leaders embrace unlikely and unpopular viewpoints. Unlikely perspectives allow for new and exciting avenues to be revealed, which can be used to devise new and exciting changes to help the company thrive and grow.

For example, Fidji Simo is the vice president of product at Facebook and is responsible for developing the global phenomenon “Facebook Live.” She found an unlikely perspective by asking her teams, “What feelings do people want to have?” and designing the product around what makes people feel good. 

Strategies for Growing as a Creative Leader

Creativity creates many enticing opportunities for both the leader and in the workplace.

As a company expands, leaders spend more time on managing the business and can miss out on chances to be a creative leader to their team.

Use the following advice in your efforts to become a more creative leader in a busy, thriving workplace.

Continue to Educate Yourself

Continued learning is one of the most effective steps to take toward becoming a creative leader. Educational resources range from single articles to full-blown courses for individuals in leadership positions that teach strategies for creative leadership in the workplace.

Leaders should also look to other individuals with experience when learning about leadership and management. Employees and other individuals in similar positions are fantastic resources for learning how to be a better and more creative leader.

Attend Industry Events

Events and seminars are a staple of corporate training and are employed by a great number of companies looking to advance team-building and management training. The same holds true when it comes to creative management training. Finding a seminar and attending it allows an individual a visceral, in-person resource for becoming a more creative leader.

Rely on the Team and Allow Them to Grow

A team can be an extension of its creative leader by providing their ideas and insights into day-to-day decision making and problem solving. Providing autonomy and some decision-making power to a team allows their creative leadership skills to thrive. By relying on a team, a creative leader has more time and energy to focus on the bigger picture goals and ideas.

Develop Thought Leadership

Building a reputation as an expert goes a long way for building trust as a creative leader. According to the Harvard Business Review’s book Creative Confidence, communicating innovative ideas and documenting and sharing their evolution in search of new insights can communicate your thought processes to others.

By providing creative leadership expertise, you naturally set yourself apart as an innovative thought leader in your field.

Good strategies to develop thought leadership in your industry is to host webinars, speak at industry events, and join industry roundtables to share knowledge and be an inspiration to others as a creative leader. Share insights on LinkedIn and other social media channels along with creating content on your website and other online publications.

Creative leaders should also seek to surround themselves with other high-level creative leaders. Attending senior level roundtables and leadership events are great networking opportunities for leaders to find mentors and inspiration.

Take Scheduled Time to be Creative

Every creative leader needs time to clear their mind, reflect, and be creative. Creative leaders need to focus on big-picture ideas and reflect on what put them there in the first place: their creative vision. Quiet time exercising, being outdoors, meditating, and doing activities that quiet the mind can wipe the slate clean. In turn, this allows for time and clarity outside the busy day of running a company.

Have Fun

Having fun with your company team and industry peers creates an open, unstructured atmosphere that can spark creativity. Relaxing and enjoying activities with like-minded individuals leads to energized conversations and open-forum brainstorming. Communicating in an unstructured environment outside of the workplace gets your mind off the daily grind and can lead to higher productivity with employees and peers. The creative vibe and energy that shines from a creative leader inspires the people around him or her.

Creative Leadership Helps Problem-Solving and Inspires

Creativity is one of the most important characteristics of an effective leader and fosters a successful and healthy workplace environment.

Creativity opens up opportunities in problem-solving, achieving goals, and inspiring teams to be creative and find unlikely perspectives.

Employing creative leadership-building strategies, such as continuing education, relying on trusted teammates, developing thought leadership, reflection, taking scheduled time out to develop creativity skills, leaning on mentors, and just having fun with peers, are essential in the journey to becoming a successful creative leader in a thriving company.


About the Author

Headshot of Lysa MillerLysa Miller is a partner at the award-winning digital agency, 3 Media Web in Hudson, MA. She is an expert source for topics relating to all things web, social media, and entrepreneurship, has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, Fortune.com, Business Insider, CIO, Daily Worth and Business Insider and is a blogger for MassVacation.com, along with a regular content contributor to various other online publications.  Lysa is a co-founder of the MetroWest Women's Network, a professional network empowering women in MetroWest Massachusetts, and a co-founder of the collaborative workspace Cowork Hudson.