“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” – Julia Cameron
Having a creative team around you is a hugely undertreated resource, and really should be considered a necessity for any business hoping to grow and create a reputation for forward-thinking in their respective industry. Creative people solve problems in inventive ways, and often improve the efficiency and productivity of an organisation.
This is as much down to the individuals on your team as it is to you as a leader. Conscious leadership involves creating an atmosphere and environment where your workforce can benefit both your business and their own personal wellbeing and ambitions.
Here are a few tips on how to begin to foster creativity within your company.
1. Give Them Space
As detailed in the quote above, ultimate control, a dictatorial structure, or an iron fist, are not great ways to foster creative thinking. It is tricky to strike a balance between saying exactly what you want and getting it and having your team run amok with digressive ideas and approaches. Indeed, if you have the right people around you, people that you trust, and foster their creativity well enough, you will be more comfortable with being open to their new ideas. Ideas you may not have thought of. Give these ideas space. And when these ideas come, give them conscious attention. This empowers both you and the individuals, creating an atmosphere of fresh ideas and collaboration.
2. Encourage Them to ‘Just Try Stuff’
Oftentimes, people don’t want to put an idea out there for fear of failure or looking stupid. This really stunts creative thinking. Encourage them to say things, and try things, without fear of failure or ridicule. Make your company a safe space. Sure, not every idea is gold, but that half-baked idea might spark somebody else to create an idea that is a winner. Also, we know that failure is required to find success, so make failure normal and absolutely ‘OK’ in your business.
3. The Culture of ‘Blocking’
This follows on from my last point. Blocking, that is shutting down an idea before it had even had time to draw breath, is damaging. It is damaging to your reputation as a conscious leader, giving each person’s ideas respect and consideration, and it damages the self-esteem of the individual. People will only take so many blocks before they stop offering ideas at all. Outlaw blocking within your team, and outlaw it for yourself. Be ‘yes’ people, or ‘let’s try it and see’ people.
4. Recognise the Link Between Comfort and Creativity
Comfort and a good work/life balance feed creativity. If people’s brains are overloaded, or a work environment is making them stressed, they are going to have far less brain space for creative thinking. Creativity forms, in its most inspirational form, when we have the opportunity to let our minds wander. Make your workplace comfortable and ensure that your workforce is being allowed to take time for themselves to recharge.
My brain works best when I take regular breaks. I break every 45 minutes to an hour, to let my brain decompress. To release the tension created by intense thought. As far as I know, certainly among writers and people in creative industries, this is not uncommon. Make sure that you have a team that you can trust to take breaks when they need to. Also, encourage your team to pay attention to how their brain works most productively.
6. Conducive Environment
The physical environment that we work in has a significant effect on how creative we manage to be. Give an employee a workspace that is cluttered, badly ventilated, filled with uncomfortable furniture or full of unnecessary distraction, then you will find them much less able to be creative than if you create an atmosphere that is consciously geared towards influencing creativity. Make your workspaces as light as possible, and as minimal as possible. Plantlife is also an excellent addition, as the extra oxygen aids efficient cognitive function.
Creativity is a key element that drives successful and growing businesses. Even by taking a few of these ideas into your place of work, and by striving towards a more conscious style of leadership, you will find yourself at the head of a happier and more fruitful workforce.
By Chris Thomson
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