Making the shift to creative leadership

Leadership consists of two journeys. The first is the journey of self discovery. A personal leadership journey. The second is the journey to creative leadership. As Steve Jobs said it’s the journey to “make a dent in the universe“. 

All leadership begins with personal leadership – the art and science of leading oneself. You have to start with personal leadership as it’s the foundation for great leadership. You must learn to lead yourself before leading others.

Personal leadership is the foundation you need to lead. It creates your personal leadership philosophy, good character, mindset, principles and practices. But you cannot stop at leading yourself. To reach your full potential you must push through to creative leadership.

Creative leadership is a shift towards a creative orientation. It’s a shift from an internal to an external focus. It’s about making your own dent in the universe!

Personal leadership journey is your preparation for the real journey of creative leadership.

The new leadership challenge

Great leaders have no inborn quality, they’re ordinary people, like you and I, who’ve made a decision to do extraordinary things.

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs

It’s the decision to do something extraordinary, to make a dent in the universe, that triggers the shift from personal to creative leadership.

The shift to creative leadership is a step all great leaders must take. Yet, it’s a step that many leaders fail to make. Why? Because creative leadership is filled with danger, uncertainty and risk. And far too many leaders prefer to remain safe, rather than risk the unknown.

Over the past few years the shift to creative leadership has become more urgent. The VUCA world of today demands more creative leaders. It’s only as leaders embrace creative leadership that they’re able to find opportunity in an uncertain world.

Have you made the shift to creative leadership?

Research from IBM’s 2010 Global CEO Survey of over 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries, found creativity as the most important leadership quality. The top leadership qualities from IBM’s 2010 Global Leadership Study are illustrated below.

Top leadership qualities from IBM’s 2010 Global Leadership Study

Creativity is top of the list, closely followed by integrity. This makes sense as leading in a VUCA world demands creativity. Creativity is essential when future is going to be significantly different from the past.

“We are in a new world, using old tools” – Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

As a result of these VUCA times it’s becoming more and more difficult to apply yesterday’s practices to the problems of today. The old leadership rule book is obsolete and being re-written to deal with a new reality.

When uncertainty is high you can’t repeat the practices of the past. What you need is new ways of thinking, new ways of working and new ways of leading.

Making your way in a VUCA world doesn’t just take courage, it demands creativity!

  • Have you made the shift towards creative leadership?
  • What do you think are the most important traits of creative leaders?