My mind has been wandering recently around the juxtaposition of leadership and creativity.
What influence does one have on the other?
Are all leaders creative?
Does creativity, by default, make one a leader?
Can a leader be too creative?
Must leaders be creative?
I am not an expert in either of these areas but I do have a certain ability to observe and report on what I see.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Society places much more emphasis on being a leader or being creative than it does on following or implementing.
  • The opposite of creating is destroying (or doing nothing) but one can also respond to creativity in a manner that is akin to following.
  • There really isn’t an opposite to leading. One either leads, follows or stands still.
  • While the tactics of leading and creating can be packaged and taught, there seems to be an organic and inborn knack enjoyed by best practitioners of either attribute.
  • The job of a leader is to take people from the status quo to a place they’ve not been.
  • The role of creativity is to fashion a new status quo from where nothing previous existed.
  • Leaders can be too creative.  In order for followers to really follow, there needs to be a bond of trust between the leader and follower.  Trust is built on feelings from past experience and creativity shreds the past as it brings about new realities.
  • Creativity and vision are not the same.  A leader may or may not be creative but vision is a requirement.
  • Creativity can and often does exist in a vacuum.  Leadership can never happen in a vacuum.
  • Leadership takes something that already exists and moves it to a new place. Creativity makes a new place.
  • Creativity defines itself while leading requires response to even exist.
  1. Ask your team to silently read these and mark each with true, false, or not sure.
  2. Assign those with opposite views to discuss why they feel the way they do.
  3. As a group, brainstorm famous leaders and their level or lack of creativity.

I believe the label “creative” and “leader’ are handed out far too generously these days; many of those hailed as leaders are actually managers and many thought to be creative are maximizers (include me in the latter).
Helping folks clarify their unique skills is what wakes me up before my alarm every day.  If you’d like to talk about this, reply to this email or give me a call.