I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow. – H. Nelson Jackson
Great leadership requires creativity. In fact, I cannot think of a single leader who I admire that doesn’t have a unique, creative perspective in their leadership. Likewise, I cannot think of a single great leader who doesn’t bring new ideas and new innovations to the table.
Many leaders struggle with this because we get too busy achieving that we forget to sharpen our saws – especially when it comes to creative innovation. It is critical that everybody figure out their own creative process and stick to it, knowing that the “stick to it” part is usually the problem. For most leaders, the urgent takes over the important and the important takes over the creative. But to be truly successful, you have to do all of those things.
Consider the metaphor of a 3-legged stool. A stool with just two legs: urgent and important, will not stand. You have to add the creative third leg to find the right balance in your leadership.
Carving out planned time for creativity does not mean you are laying in the grass staring at the clouds, although it could. Instead, it might mean that you spend time writing at your computer, catching up on your favorite blogs or publications, attending a conference or having coffee with a leader in a totally different industry than yours. It is really important that leaders block creative time in the manner that best allows you to think through great solutions for your organization.
Being creative and innovative does not mean re-inventing the wheel either. Remember, innovation is simply about taking the ideas of others and morphing them to work best in your business, your industry, your not-for-profit or your governmental unit. But, you have to spend time considering those ideas before you can innovate them.
If you aren’t intentional about the creative, it will get pushed out. The urgent always tries to kill the creative. And very few leaders fail because they miss something urgent; most fail because they lose their creativity, which halts their long-term value and makes them easily replaceable. To be effective in leadership, we simply have to continually renew our creativity and push towards innovation.
Question: What does a creative outlet look like for you? How have you been able to protect that time?