The Multiple Facets of Creative Leadership
It was a hot summer afternoon, and I was sitting in the second row in class. I don’t even remember what my Physics teacher was rambling because I was bored out of mind. I’d tried every hack to make the clock tick faster- looked outside the window, day-dreamed, doodled, and twirled my hair with my little finger. Alas, the class ended! The next period was my favorite- English, and the teacher walked in with a small plant and some fresh seeds (that she handed to each one of us). Since the 11-page literature chapter focused on a plant’s journey, this little trick got our attention, and we enjoyed our lessons (I still remember it). What an impact-maker, what a creative leader! I could sense her passion for the subject and students’ welfare.
In my opinion, a creative leader is a storehouse of innovation and ambition. You see, a leader’s actual role, in any organization or group, is to help people identify their strengths and work towards bigger excellence. Let’s find out what a creative leader is, the typical characteristics of a creative leader, the top dilemmas they face, and some of the best creative leaders in the world.
Who is a creative leader?
Theoretically speaking, the same ideas and thoughts are re-circulated in almost every genre of life- be it teaching, marketing, or public speaking. Then, why is it that some people successfully make a greater impact than their counterparts? Creative leaders can adapt to the changing technology and environmental needs and tackle sudden problems with a broader vision and critical analysis. One of the most prominent names here has to be Walt Disney, who tapped into a new domain and created a brand.
He initially worked as a commercial illustrator before developing his first major success, Mickey Mouse. Most people do not know that he also provided the voice to his character in the initial years. Thus, a creative leader is one who fights adversities and can work wonders even with limited resources. Today, Walt Disney’s net worth is in billions because he led the way driven by instinct and talent. Some key marketing elements that have performed favorably for Disney are the use of emotions and nostalgia, multi-channel promotion, Disneyland (I love the one in LA), and compelling brand storytelling.
Characteristics of a creative leader
Identifying appealing opportunities in the market, being high on social passion and empathy, and mitigating risks, and focusing on sustainability are some of the chief characteristics of a creative leader. While there are several big names in this regard, we know most of the celebrities making headlines. But this blog wants to discuss a notch higher- let’s talk about the unsung heroes.
If you have read my previous posts, you must already know how big a food lover I am. I keep looking for online recipes and new start-ups. I recently came across an Indian website that’s selling edible cookie dough (and it claims to be the first in India). I love the idea and think it’s fantastic that they have paved the way for more such companies and entrepreneurs! That’s what I call a creative leader who identified an opportunity and started working towards the bigger goal- success. Overcoming the initial challenges, the team has provided employment to a big group now.
Someone rightly said that the world is based on chances and probabilities. If you do not take those chances, your world will become static. Similarly, each of us may be leaders in our little ways without even realizing it. When I now look at my friends from school and college, start their own business, or manage their household chores, I feel a sense of pride. It’s because of the skillful handling that I call them all-rounders.
Dilemmas a creative leader faces
The present vs. the future was a constant debate my English teacher faced. Well, at least that is what I understood. While her ideas were aimed at getting everyone involved, some other teachers often questioned if her activities would yield long-term results. All I can say is that my friends and I had planted those seeds, and the plants bloomed beautiful flowers.
Is it possible to plan everything? No matter how much you plan, it is impossible to dictate external factors. Imagine a situation when your company is headed for a presentation, but a sudden power cut leaves you without any technical aid. That’s when you put on thinking hats and make do with what you have. Being the leader, you must be quick to keep the team’s morale high.
Lastly, the old vs. new is another dilemma no creative thinker can escape. While the mind wants to try out something new, the heart wishes to tread on the predetermined path. Thus, creative thinkers need to incorporate diversity with traditionalism.
A creative leader I look up to
My first role model in life was my mother. Not because I shared a blood relation with her but because of how beautifully she managed her professional and personal life. A leader is not someone who is only growing individually but knows how to take the team forward as well. I remember, there were days when the household staff was unable to complete a task timely or her colleagues were lagging, and she always had a new idea up her sleeve to keep everyone motivated. That’s who I aspire to be. Thus, creative leadership is about going all out to excel. No matter what the hardships are, it is important to overcome them with a creative tinge. So, don’t break the rules but bend them a little and show how that bend is actually a curve towards growth (if you don’t get this, get in touch with me, and I’ll give you a drawn demonstration).
Another name that keeps me motivated all the time is myself. I firmly believe that instead of competing with others, we need to compete with ourselves to grow a little daily. Pushing personal boundaries and reaching out to excellence is what I find challenging. The day I had taken up my present professional role, it was a rollercoaster of emotions because my predecessor had done the task quite excellently. Initially, I tried to follow their footsteps. However, I felt I was losing my spark that way. That’s when I took charge of things my way. Though it was new for the team at first, we all grew to new heights. That’s what I call creative leadership- continue a legacy with your personal touch.
Each one of us is a creative leader. Be it a school teacher leading her class, or a manager leading the floor work, creativity is the key to everything. I think that’s how humans are designed- we are attracted to novelty and that’s what keeps everyone on their toes. If you don’t feel this about yourself, you just haven’t identified your strengths. Take your time to figure it out and come back to share your story with me. Also, don’t forget my English teacher and let me know if you have known such creative leaders personally.