Leaders and executives, whether in startups or established companies, are expected to be pioneers of new ideas and solutions. But when you’re just one person in a larger team or massive company, being the sole source of new ideas can prove to be exhausting (and not very fruitful).
To reduce the burden on leaders, generate better ideas, and create employees who are assets, consider fostering creativity in your whole team.
The Importance of Creativity
Creative thinking is one of the most powerful tools an executive can harness for themselves and their peers or employees. Creativity is more than just the ability to paint, write, or dance; it’s the ability to express new ideas and solve problems in non-traditional ways.
Studies are beginning to show that encouraging creativity actually generates better business results. These results include increased productivity, higher employee retention, larger profit margins, and better project/product success. Creative selling, creative brainstorming, and even creative marketing are all essential elements of a great company. When you foster creativity, you foster all of those things that make your company succeed.
The key with creativity, however, is that it can’t just flow from one “heroic” source. It is best utilized when many people are working together to solve the same problems or achieve the same goal. Other executives, team members, and employees are all untapped sources of creativity; all you have to do is unlock that potential.
So the real question is: How can executives encourage creativity among their team or within their entire company?
How to Get the Creative Juices Flowing
If you’re concerned that creativity isn’t your strong suit, or that it will be hard to introduce “untraditional” methods into your team, you’d be surprised at how unobtrusive creativity can be. The ideas below will help your team gradually increase creativity without changing too much of the structure (or making anyone feel uncomfortable):
1. Change the Attitude Towards Failure
What do you do, as an executive, if something isn’t working? You try something else. While not every attempt results in a success, the idea is that you’re moving forward with potential solutions. Cultivating this thought process (and trial-and-error acceptance) in your corporate culture could be the key to unlocking creativity.
When employees and team members know they can share ideas that may or may not work, you’ll find that there are more solutions than you could generate yourself.
2. Hire from a Diverse Pool
One key to making sure that innovative ideas are introduced into the pool is making sure that diverse people are on your team. This means hiring people from different age groups, backgrounds, educations, and more; they’ll gladly bring their own creativity to brainstorming sessions.
Having a diverse team will also ensure that the most skilled people can carry out the innovative ideas, as well as troubleshoot along the way.
3. Brainstorming Sessions – Yes… Brainstorming done right
You probably already hold team meetings where you bounce ideas off of each other, or where employees ask for help solving complex problems. Did you realize that those were creativity-inducing meetings? By purposefully working as a group and soliciting innovative ideas, studies show that teams can create wholly innovative solutions to age-old problems.
Make sure that brainstorming meetings are seen as problem-solving, interactive gatherings where you are trying to stir the pot and that a particular meeting doesn’t need to finish with a “result.” That will help increase engagement and attendance, which in turn will create more solutions.
4. Create Both Private and Group Space
You might not expect that separate offices are related to increased creativity. However, studies show that many people function best when they can return to quiet spaces after team brainstorming. By encouraging people to use the open, communal space for brainstorming and then letting employees use their own private space, you’re creating a balance.
That balance will generate better ideas, happier employees, and even more potential benefits to your company.
Creativity may seem like a finicky, unreliable source of business acumen, but the truth is that it can be sharpened and used to your company’s advantage. The more creativity you have, and from the most sources, the bigger and better the ideas will become. It is also a great way to build an entire team, employee base, and/or company that has personal stock in the outcomes of new ideas, processes, and launches.