Creativity and the Role of Leadership
Teresa Amabile, Mukti Khaire
Some really great material and is very consistent with the tenets of MDG
Creativity has always been at the heart of business, but until now it hasn’t been at the top of the management agenda. By definition the ability to create something novel and appropriate, creativity is essential to the entrepreneurship that gets new businesses started and that sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale. But perhaps because creativity was considered unmanageable—too elusive and intangible to pin down—or because concentrating on it produced a less immediate payoff than improving execution, it hasn’t been the focus of most managers’ attention….…Here are some key leadership roles:
Drawing on the Right MindsThe first priority of leadership is to engage the right people, at the right times, to the right degree in creative work. That engagement starts when the leader recasts the role of employees. Rather than simply roll up their sleeves and execute top-down strategy, employees must contribute imagination.
Bringing Process to Bear—Carefully
Map the phases of creative work.Process management, Mark Fishman explained, is appropriate in some phases of creative work but not others. The leader’s job is to map out the stages of innovation and recognize the different processes, skill sets, and technology support that each requires. For instance, efficiency-minded management “has no place in the discovery phase
Manage the commercialization handoff.Few people have equal capabilities in idea generation and idea commercialization; that’s why large corporations normally separate the two functions. The consensus is that, eventually, an innovation reaches a point where it will be best served by people who know how to take it to market. Unfortunately, since the passion for an idea is highest among its originators, projects often lose steam at the handoff. Management’s job is to limit the loss of momentum with adroit timing and handling of the transition
Provide paths through the bureaucracy…the manager must act as a shepherd….. executives must protect those doing creative work from a hostile environment and clear paths for them around obstacles.
Fanning the Flames of MotivationMotivating people to perform at their peak is especially vital in creative work. An employee uninspired to wrap her mind around a problem is unlikely to come up with a novel solution.
Provide intellectual challenge.Early-stage researchers who were more motivated by intellectual challenge tended to be more productive. (Interestingly, this did not hold true among the group doing later-stage work.) A stronger desire for independence was also associated with somewhat higher productivity. It wasn’t that extrinsic motives were unimportant; a person’s greater emphasis on salary was also associated with greater productivity. The desire for intellectual challenge was, however, much more strongly linked to it.
Allow people to pursue their passions.If the keys to creative output are indeed intellectual challenge and independence, management must find ways to provide them. In large part, that demands awareness of individuals’ interests and skillsBe an appreciative audience.The fact that creative workers are intrinsically motivated does not mean that managers’ behavior makes no difference. A good leader can do much to challenge and inspire creative work in progress
Embrace the certainty of failure.Arguably, the managerial reactions that speak loudest to creative workers are reactions to failure. Virtually everyone in the colloquium agreed that managers must decrease fear of failure and that the goal should be to experiment constantly, fail early and often, and learn as much as possible in the process.