I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. -Mohandas Gandhi
I finally watched The King’s Speech last night. It is an absolutely fantastic movie about a man who had to overcome a stammer and see himself as the leader he was meant to be. Many of the tactical exercises he used to build himself up were creative exercises many actors use. If you haven’t seen it, then I recommend curling up and renting it.
But the movie was really just a part of an on-going question that kept reoccurring throughout this past weekend. After a random two-hour long conversation with a group of elementary school teachers; a run in with an old friend who is an executive director, and dinners with friends over a good glass of wine. The question has consistently shown up is : How do we grow today’s leaders?
Based on the eye-opening conversations I have had over this past weekend, here are some suggestions:
The group of teachers told me how playtime had almost been completely eliminated from the day-to-day routine of their K-5th graders. One teacher stated, “If we cannot use playtime to instill creative problem solving and we create a rigid structure that every child must follow, how can we expect them to take charge and solve problems in the real world. We are setting them up to fail.”
What about today’s leaders? Is creativity really an integral part of leadership? A study by IBM found that 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking.
To read more on the study, click here.
Leadership takes practice, even for those out there who are naturally born to lead. It is essential to practice, even before a person is given a title or responsibility. If you manage a team, consider giving the reigns to each person on your team for a specific project. Let them know that they do not need to know everything (no one does); however, they should be asking themselves these questions:
- Have I covered every aspect of this project?
- Am I making the right decision with the information I have?
- How are we measuring the success of this project for each member of the team?
Mistakes will happen. Encourage them. Have everyone welcome them, as well as the learning that comes from them with open arms. Some of the most innovative ideas and products come from mistakes.
I run a session called Think Tank. Within this session, someone will throw out a problem or topic and it is the job of everyone in the room to come up with as many different ideas and solutions as possible. Some stick and some are put into an idea bank for later. Either way, it gives everyone the opportunity and freedom to creatively think about a new topic or problem.
How can you encourage more creativity into your daily life? How can you mentor others to do the same? Have you already? If so, what’s worked for you? We would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share them.
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