Creativity and Leadership

Creativity starts with humility. It starts with saying “I don’t know the answer”. The resulting journey to find that answer most times results in creative solutions. Creativity stops when we think we know everything and no longer become sojourners on a journey of inquisitiveness. It also stops when our teams become unbalanced because of homogenous recruitment to the team.

Jaussi, Stefanovich & Devlin (2008) argue that there are four categories of effective followership for creativity and innovation. They build on Roberts Kelley’s dimensions of effective followership, and label their categories as follows:

1. Creative Skeptics – Challenge and prod new ideas through bold questions that challenge assumptions.
2. Creative Statics – Bring calm, rational energy and a sense of stability to the team.
3. Creative Supporters – Open to creative solutions but have an easier time with incremental new thoughts that build on existing thoughts, than coming up with brand-new ideas.
4. Creative Catalysts – Inspire creativity by idea dropping, and create positive disturbances through those ideas.

A leader needs to build a team around him/her that has all four qualities/people on it. If the team is unbalanced towards on or more quadrants, creativity and innovation will be severely hindered, dysfunctional or irrational in the organization. Leaders must intentionally recruit diverse team members to their teams, that are different than themselves. This diversity will become a primary catalyst to creativity.

Jaussi, K.S., Stefanovich, A. & Devlin, P.G. (2008). Effective followership for creativity and innovation. In R. Riggio, I. Chaleff & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.). The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp.291-307). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

3 thoughts on “Creativity and Leadership

  1. your succinct article captures the essence of creativity from humility “I don’t know the answer” and also it is the ability to be prepared to ”unlearn” , what has got us here does not necessarily it will continue to be successful>
    we have a group called Followership on Linkedin and welcome anyone who is interested in this subject.

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