Friday, January 4, 2013

Three “C”s In Creative Leaders

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”  Erich Fromm

Today’s C-Level leaders really need many “C”s, beyond “Chief” status, it takes courage, confidence, convincing, consistency, capability., etc. besides character-based or charismatic leadership, another “C” type  –Creative leaders are in high demand, as the world we are facing is becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, it may take creativity to lead an increasingly diverse, creative and eclectic workforce. Here are three "C" factors in creative leadership.

1.    Cognition

In any case, the fewer boundaries that exist hindering free movement between all forms of articulate human cognition, the better.         --Brian Ferneyhough

Cognition is a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious. These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts. Cognitive leaders assimilate all relevant information available, transform them into business insight, consciously cultivate a culture of innovation, and make effective decisions for the organization they lead.

  • Cognitive Difference Nurtures Creativity: It's important to build diversity within organizations. It's essential to have people who can generate lots of original ideas, and it's equally important to have people who can evaluate and implement these ideas! So it's important to build a culture where creativity is not just accepted but encouraged. How would we create new, faster and better (or cheaper) ways of doing things without some level of creativity? Creative leaders will lead such a diversified team with a high level of creativity to manage innovation smoothly.

  • Cognitive Difference Reframing Questions: Creative people are typically disrespectful of the frameworks, and their creativity is really their way of breaking out or of reframing how we see the world. Creative leaders also have the ability to reframe the circumstances or conditions around a problem, to solve a problem creatively. As far as leading change is concerned - there is a lot of crossover between change leadership and creativity (tolerance for ambiguity/idea generation/confidence, etc.). The leadership team with a cognitive difference will have the better capability and complementary skills to lead business transformation effortlessly. 

2. Connection

  • Creativity is all about connecting the dots. It’s an inner process to create novel ideas. Creativity may start with the biological basis of creativity (nature); then the development or suppression of those characteristics during maturation (nurture); then the biological and social support of those traits (nutrition). May creativity simply be an artifact of freedom of action rather than a biological or personality characteristic? Creative leaders will build up the working environment to nurture creativity, enable dot-connecting activities such as cross-functional collaboration, and encourage the freedom of thinking and action.
  • Connect Today and Future: Creativity takes vision and imagination, creative ideas may hit old saw about the path to acceptance: Resistance, Ridicule, Reluctance, Relevance. A change before its time is resisted and the process works until the change becomes relevant, then it is adopted wholesale as if it was as natural as the sunshine. Creative leaders are forward-looking; accelerate such process to bridge today and future, to push the human world forward. 

3. Coherence

  • Creative Coherence: Are all creative leaders like this: “The crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers….”. From common wisdom, they might be a crazy one as they are visionary, on the other side; they may present intellective coherence than the majority of people. Each stage of leadership represents increased complexity and requires new awareness, new intelligence, and a new skill. The ability to maintain focus and clarity -- even under extreme pressure -- is what science calls coherence.

  • Structured creativity: Creativity is not always welcomed in many situations, from the team meeting to boardroom. Is creativity in the business management setting based on a natural ability to lead people confidently into unfamiliar activities and settings? Leaders with structured creativity may use their whole brain, do synthesis and analysis at synchronized way, assemble coherence from seemingly unrelated phenomena, manage the order from chaos, and amplify voice from noise, they flatten hierarchy and challenge status quos.
Great leaders may also need to become such great creative people, great creative problem solver, with such curiosity to see through business and humanity. “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett


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