This beautiful picture was drawn for me by my big niece (8)


Welcome! How would you rate the importance of creativity for your company’s success? Instead of pondering about how we can apply creativity in a helpful way, we often limit ourselves to identifying what could hinder our creativity or block our team’s or company’s creative potential. How familiar do these causes sound to you? Could it be that you or your staff are or feel…

  • anxious to be judged by others or to fail
  • strictly target-oriented and following conventional solution methods
  • a sense of perfectionism or the need to be acknowledged
  • time or performance pressure that encourages you to take old paths or routines
  • weak connections with those whom you want to be creative with
  • thinking barriers through limiting beliefs, interpretations or assumptions
  • negatively biased or think you are not creative
  • a lack of autonomy
  • that group think rather leads to consensus than original ideas?!

If you agree to one or more of the above potential creativity blocks, increase your artful leadership. Let’s explore what creativity is helpful and needed for, what it is, what it requires, and how to nurture it.

Creativity is required to find new solutions, new ideas, or new ways. We need creativity in many different areas of work and life, e.g. strategic corporate planning, product development, scarcely resourced project execution, specific challenges relating to client services, vacation planning, home decoration, cooking dinner etc.

The term creativity originates from the Latin word ‘creare’, which basically means to ‘invent, create, produce’ something; it can also mean to ‘make a choice’. Another root is the Latin ‘crescere’ that means ‘happening and growing’. Modern concepts and theories on creativity reflect these two aspects of creativity – proactive doing and passive letting-it-happen. In that sense, creativity is an act of observing and thinking as well as implementing new and imaginative ideas. And creativity does not necessarily need to be expressed via a piece of art.

Simply said, creativity comes into existence in the right associative brain hemisphere. However, our Western societies predominantly challenge the left brain, which e.g. is responsible for logical thinking, data and numbers, and our verbal language. Creativity is an innate characteristic of living systems involving both brain hemispheres. Because of the brain’s plasticity, even babies are able to perceive stimuli from the external and internal world and process them actively, thus, constructing their own perspectives. This ability persists until old age. To learn more about the similarities between our brains and an organization, please read this article.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
Steve Jobs

Creative people show or have…

  • sensitivity and deep understanding of the problem – check out one of our related previous articles
  • exquisite sense of the topical choice
  • persistence and high energy because resolving a problem or overcoming obstacles might need time and patience
  • curiosity and openness that helps them spot, recognize, understand, further develop, experiment, and combine information and diversified experiences in a new formation
  • spontaneity and are able to deviate from the long-term plan to respond in a flexible manner ad hoc
  • confidence and independence
  • complexity or the willingness to reconcile many different approaches, concepts, solutions or routines supports a realistic perspective.

The VIA Institute determined creativity as a character strength and as part of the virtue wisdom. According to VIA, “creativity entails thinking of new ways to do things. It requires strengths that involve the way we acquire and use knowledge. Originality and adaptiveness are key components to creativity. A creative individual generates ideas or behaviors that are novel or unusual. These make a positive contribution to the individual’s life or the lives of others.” Find out your top strengths by taking this quick and free survey.

These are our top ten principles to shake up thinking patterns and boost creative actions:

  1. Be curious and show an interest – observe and perceive what’s going on around you with heightened attention and awareness.
  2. Think long-term and embrace uncertainty – imagine various future scenarios, best case and worst case and how you would react to the different possibilities.
  3. Think like a visionary – dream and imagine how your environment and society could develop and how you could benefit from it.
  4. Challenge – do not just limit yourself to accept decisions or daily routines; rather ask yourself what you could do better about them.
  5. Get inspired – learn about others’ thoughts and ideas and play with them; appreciate team work as an opportunity for intellectual discourse; or assign a muse (whoever or whatever that might be for you).
  6. Develop tolerance for mistakes – adopt the perspective that every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow, be persistent and keep trying and experimenting.
  7. Trust your intuition – don’t just listen to your rational mind; give your intuition a chance as well.
  8. Organize – focus on the priorities even when the going gets tough or complex.
  9. Influence and convince others – communicate about your concepts and ideas and gain buy-in.
  10. Collect ideas – whenever you see or read or research something that sparks your interest, consider filing the material; you might need that stimulus later.

As artful leaders, consider applying those principles for yourselves and become a creativity role model in your organization. For your teams or staff to embrace creativity and innovation,

  • provide them with an environment that encourages creativity and to ensure they are aware of the importance to you and the organization (awareness)
  • provide them with the opportunity to reflect on their values and beliefs regarding creativity and innovation (attitude)
  • make information easily accessible to them (knowledge)
  • help them practice and experiment with new behaviors or approaches (skills).

“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything … whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
Tina Tuner

Sometimes even the best artful leader can get stuck. Use this website for more inspiration. There are zillions of creativity techniques out there, e.g. the Walt Disney Method™ (it is described in our free eBook – just download it ), Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Heads®, or Design Thinking. Start by setting aside some time each day for creative thinking or creative activities, such as writing short stories or using an everyday household object in a new way. Or simply contact me for a free complimentary coaching session.

May your creativity thrive! With all my very best wishes, Annette (aka ‘Crea-Diva’)