Empower Your Leadership With Creativity
People who use a status quo approach in their leadership methods tend to deliver status quo results. That doesn’t mean that fundamentals aren’t important—focusing on what’s vital and using an accountability system that’s based in proven strategies is essential in terms of hitting goals and achieving sustainable success. Yet the savviest leaders know that creativity also counts—so much so that it’s one of the most-valued leadership traits today. Leaders who courageously let go of norms, lean on creativity, and allow it to flourish tend to win. They reap the benefits of an organization that’s more empowered, innovative and productive. And over time, as these companies and their leaders consistently exercise creativity, they don’t just experience profitability but often become game-changers in their industry and sometimes throughout the world.
Here’s how to bring more creativity and innovation into your leadership and business today:
1. Shake Up Routines
Get people out of their comfort zones and into new situations where they have to do things differently. This could be as simple as making all your managers sit in different seats next time they come in for a monthly accountability meeting. Or, it could be switching up team members to generate new relationships and spark fresh ideas among the group. Something as basic as this can trigger greater participation levels, communication, imagination, problem-solving, ownership of process and outcomes, and, of course, teamwork in general.
2. Give Frontline Employees Some Power
It’s not uncommon for customer service agents and other frontline employees to operate under overly stringent levels of structure. True, policies and procedures are important to business operations. Yet all too often, frontline workers aren’t given the freedom to make their own decisions. However, when they do have this option, they’re empowered and may surprise you with very innovative, more effective ways to manage daily business as well as challenges that arise. In short, they may come up with the exact solutions you need.
3. Give Problem-solving A New Purpose
People generally don’t like to solve problems because with problems, uncomfortable conflict can surface. But if you communicate to your employees that the purpose of problems is for them to become viable opportunities to enhance the value of individuals, teams and the organization at large, this can create a cultural shift in how your people perceive “problems.” Because this change starts with you, you must initiate ushering in and sustaining this unconventional perception. For example, ask your direct reports to develop two solutions for every problem they encounter before asking you for advice or help. Bring them together and don’t tell but coach the folks into developing ways to collaborate, navigate differences and achieve their goals. Also, remember to make problem-solving fun! Put out a weekly business challenge with an incentive to provide the most effective, innovative answer. At company retreats, pose a business “problem” or weakness and put people into teams to compete for a potential solution. Build participation, reinforce the problem-solving behaviors you want, and recognize those who contribute, offering a variety of prizes and awards (e.g., for the most cost-effective, most likely to succeed, most customer-centric, most out-of-the-box, etc.).
What kinds of body language or other communications send the message that problems are problems rather than opportunities to learn and innovate?