Sunday, November 23, 2014

Does Creative Leader Make you Nervous?

It seems to be most leaders or managers have more conventional wisdom, but creative leaders have better common sense.

Many executives in large corporate environments equate "creativity" with uncertainty and risk. Creative ideas are often hard to sell, particularly in public companies because the payoff is uncertain. Unless there is a clear culture of accepting some level of failure and budgeting for it on a regular basis, many fail to take the risk of encouraging creativity, therefore, the creative leaders also make others nervous, because they are the out-of-box thinkers and take more transformational initiatives.

Why creative leaders make others nervous? People are different; some are visual, some analytical and some (Creative Leaders) are a unique combination of the two...meaning they can easily recognize the challenge, visualize a solution, evaluate it and then recommend it (in what seems in the corporate world, in a blink of an eye). It doesn't mean that Creative Leaders are smarter than those that are analytical; but to many who are not a Creative Leader, they do not understand how someone can quickly visualize a solution. Therefore, they don't trust it. So it seems to be most of leaders/managers have more conventional wisdom, but creative leaders have better common sense.

To test for how 'creative' or accepting of 'creativity' a company is by asking - How does learning occur? How is success defined? And how is failure defined? If they state learning occurs through their training program, success is defined by meeting budget and project timelines and failure is by not meeting them, then, you know the answer. If learning occurs through the experience of failing, success is defined as capturing that learning of how not to achieve the desired result and failure is not learning from those mistakes, and then you’re getting there.

Most of the time, the company executives’ nervousness stems from the fear of failure and to some extent loss of control. Creative management shapes bigger box, but the traditional type of management cannot look outside the box. The creative and innovative management make more profit than those that weren't. It doesn't take much to be creative. Just welcome the creative leaders on board, and just allow your employees to come up with the ideas and compensate them appropriately for those ideas. Give them credit instead of taking the credit. Employees are people and want to be acknowledged too. Why are creative leaders making others nervous? Creativity is risky and most companies want to minimize risk versus taking intelligent risks. Most companies would never take a huge leap even with the enticement of a huge payback due to the minimum risk culture which delivers minimal payback. Although it is understandable, in difficult times, there is a real need for companies to embrace responsible creativity. How can you get them to accept it? You need to learn how to sell your ideas. It may mean sitting back and waiting to make your recommendation. Talk to others one-on-one, gather their input and make them a part of the process.

The creative leaders have well-thought-out plans as well: Senior level executives who actually fear the creativity that drives the business. They do not see that as they try to desperately cling to the conventional norms of "command and control" leadership that they are actually stifling the very creativity that their company depends upon for success and ultimately corporate survival. And what most of the senior level executives do not realize is that a Creative Leader is not shooting from the hip. They have been mentally reviewing the pros and cons, potential cause and effect to other areas, short and long-term financial implications and the overall impact on the company, prior to suggesting an alternative approach. It takes both courage and strategy to make any transformation. Unless there is a credible, rational, and (reasonably) benevolent commitment from the top down to the bottom of the organization to change that is communicated throughout the organization, and unless there is the opportunity for communication upward, attempts to implement substantial changes in cultural, processes, and structure are fated to be extremely painful at best, and may even be doomed to fail.

There are two sides to the innovation management story: In the one organization, the initial "fear of the unknown" morphed into the kind of low-level anxiety that stimulates creative change. In the process, there’s friction to changes, but over the long haul, everyone from the top down saw the benefits. Individuals and teams were rewarded for taking calculated risks. Ultimately, the creative change was seen as an all-win proposition because it was valued by top management and that commitment permeated the organization. In the other organization, "creative change" was a slogan that had no teeth. There was a general perception that despite the recognition by most in the organization that change was needed and creative approaches to issues had to be found, only some of top management appeared to be truly committed, and few incentives were given for taking calculated creative risks. When some ideas and initiatives came anyway, there was a general perception that they were at best unsupported, and at worst, undermined. The lack of commitment from top management was that the senior executives did not communicate "what was in it for them," and there was a clear disconnect between top management and the rest of the organization. Two-way communication was not encouraged.

Creative leaders are not day dreamers or spontaneous actors, they are the versatile leader who learns and adapt, they are the thought leaders who can think out of box; they are the one who make plans, but be dynamic to make adjustment, and they are just the one who can see things differently and do things alternatively. Perhaps they make others nervous because they seem to break down the conventional wisdom, but they are the one who pushes the human world forward.


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