Is there a link between creativity and successful leadership?
Lisa Bodell, CEO of FutureThink, writes on the leadership/creativity connection in her post of May 17, 2011 titled;

The Era of the Right-Brained Thinker

Bodell references Daniel Pink’s 2005 book A Whole New Mind in using words like agility, synthesis, inspiration and story-telling to define creative leadership.

“. . . creativity and innovation are critical capabilities for leaders in a future characterized by constant change, created and sustained by employees who seek inspiration and meaning. In fact, [a study by IBM] found that today’s CEOs are already identifying creativity as the most important leadership characteristic.”

I’ve been rolling this connection around for some time. When I first wrote about it in July 2010, I shared these observations:

  • 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.

We would all benefit from more dialog on this and you’re welcome to add your comments below: