How to Cultivate Creative Leaders
A scenario for you. You spot a problem within your organization. How do handle it? You could call in the relevant staff members and say, “Here’s a problem. Here’s how I’d like you to fix it.” Or you could take another approach. You could gather your team and ask questions: “Do you feel like we’re successful in this area? If we wanted to excel, how could we do it? Can you think of ways we could solve this problem?”
How you approach problems as a leader has a huge impact on how your staff develops. If you take the second approach – you’re implementing a servant-empowered leadership model. You’re engaging your staff in conversations where they have the chance to analyze the problem, and then figure out the best solution. And if your people self-identify the solution, they will own it. People always push harder and sacrifice more for their own ideas. You will cultivate innovation, creativity and sacrifice in your staff.
If you go with the first approach – you tell your staff what’s wrong and how you’d like them to fix it – you’re implementing a hierarchical model of leadership. Your people will learn to do what you say. They’ll wait and take their cues from you. When a problem comes up, they’ll expect you to fix it.
Which kind of staff do you want? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s not always an obvious choice. There are definite disadvantages to being an empowering leader. Solving a problem takes more time, for one. You have to step back and let a team take a stab at something you could probably figure out within minutes. You may also feel a lot less valued. After all, the skill of standing back and letting a creative team of people innovate isn’t one that tends to be highlighted. You don’t get to be the one with the answers.
So you need to think about it:
Do you want people who will do what you say? Or do you want people who will solve problems?
And is your approach to problem-solving developing people in the right direction?