Creative Leadership

creative leadership, creativity, left and right brain

IBM recently released the results of a global study called Capitalizing on Complexity, in which they interviewed over 1500 CEOs across 60 countries representing 33 industries. One of the key survey questions was on what these CEOs considered to be the most important leadership qualities over the next five years. 60% of the CEOs regarded creativity as the number one leadership quality, with integrity a close second at 52%. I have attached a full list of all the leadership qualities to this post.

Creativity is needed to tackle the complexity that leaders face in running their organisations. For more information on the challenges of complexity, read my post titled The Two-Headed Dragon”. I stated in that post that clarity is an antidote to complexity, but today and next week, I will explore how creativity can also help in tackling the challenges of complexity. A key component of both creativity and clarity is perception. How leaders perceive the challenges of complexity determines how they will act, because perception determines action. Creativity is a skill – a mindset which can be learnt or cultivated. Edward De Bono stated that ‘Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.’

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their Newsweek article stated that ‘To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result)’. They argued that highly creative people are very good at utilizing both their left (logical deductions) and right (lateral connections) brains, and the more creative they are, the more they dual-activate. Most people tend to be stronger in one brain region over the other. Creative leaders hire those who compliment them in areas in which they are weak.

The CEOs in this IBM survey recognize that for their organizations to be creative, they needed to discard long held traditional beliefs about their industry and global marketplace that are no longer relevant in order to succeed. They also cited the need to be willing to be comfortable upsetting both personal and organizational status quo. Business as usual is no longer a safe anchor for forward-looking creative CEOs who desire to navigate their organisations through the storms of a global economic recession. Creative leaders are comfortable dealing with ambiguity and much more willing to experiment than play it safe. They are constantly searching for novel and alternative ways of looking at and thinking about their organisational challenges.

The drive to make any organisation creative and innovative starts at the top. If leaders want creativity to permeate their organisation then they need to show their staff that they are serious about it by prioritising it. It is clear from the IBM study that creativity is now the number one thing on their mind and agenda going forward.

creative leadership, IBM survey,


5 replies on “Creative Leadership”

Man City need to read this, none of the qualities listed apply to them lol.

Good reading for everyone though. Not just city.

Nice one unc Ola.

I like this, I knew I would when I saw the title.

I have to say I find it interesting that humility and fairness aren’t considered as important leadership qualities. I say this because I would have thought humility is part of what is needed to know when one needs a complimenting partner. I mean isn’t pride part of the reason many leaders are falling short these days?

Ok, so where do we draw the line between prioritizing the organization without neglecting responsibilities like family etc.? I would have thought part of creative leadership is the ability to strike a balance without making anyone feel less important.

My take home message is to challenge myself to take a chance for progress’ sake without being afraid of upsetting a set balance. I’m gonna keep thinking outside the box.

I am gathering from this article that creativity has got a lot to do with stepping outside the routine, the mundane, the usual things and the usual ways of doing things.

I have learnt from this that a big part of effective creativity is letting go of what we are used to and embracing what we are even unsure of with the confidence that if it does not work, we will draw from the creativity within us and try another idea.

Being a risk taker. I am linking creativity with risk taking…..I like this article.

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