Creative Leadership 2

Image source: @boetter

I said last week that how leaders perceive the challenges of complexity determines how they will act, because perception determines action. Schoemaker and Day, in an MIT Sloan Management Review article, stated that once managers or leaders lock in on a certain picture or idea for their organisation, they will often reshape reality to fit into that familiar frame. Humans tend to judge too quickly when presented with ambiguous data because we have to work extra hard to consider less familiar scenarios. Whenever crucial information is missing, our minds naturally shape the facts to fit our preconceptions.

Michael Michalko in his book, Cracking Creativity, stated that creative people think productively not reproductively when confronted with a problem. They tend to ask themselves how many different ways they can look at the problem, how they can rethink it and how many different ways they can solve it {productive approach}, instead of settling for how they were taught to solve it {reproductive approach}.

Productive creative thinking encourages you to generate as many alternative approaches as possible and this includes considering the least as well as the most likely solutions. The willingness to explore all approaches, even after he has found a promising one, is the strength of the creative leader. Reproductive creative thinking usually fails because it leads us to the usual solutions instead of original ones. This is a result of treating every challenge the same way – dealing with new challenges using old experiences.

Non-creative leaders often have limited tolerance for ambiguity or uncertainty and may be reluctant to devote additional time to develop alternative hypotheses. But organisations need their leaders to have competing hypotheses to escape the trap of getting stuck on a simple, single view that is wrong whilst being decisive. This is why they get paid the big bucks.

Charles Darwin, in his theory of evolution, postulated that species that are unable to adapt to changing landscapes die but those that do, survive and thrive. He called this the survival of the fittest. Creative leaders tend to be good at spotting emerging trends that have the ability to transform their industries in order for their organisations to survive and thrive. CEOs can’t afford to get complacent as a result of past and present successes. They need to keep their eye on the changes going on in the background that can impact their organisations’ future. Such changes include monitoring what their customers, competitors and partners are doing as well as keeping up with technological advancements that can disrupt their business.

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One Response to Creative Leadership 2

  1. Tamara Ng'ambi

    Very well said. A lot to do with keeping up with the changing face of the age and learning from competitors is not to see them as enemies, but as the people who cause for us to want to get better, to know more and be effective.

    We should see them as a force that cause for us to thrive harder.

    In being creative and effective as leaders: we must be teacheable! Even learn from our competitors.

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