How To Become A Creative Leader

Dictionary.com defines creativity as, “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patters, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.” Whether you consider yourself a creative leader or not we should be intentional about increasing our creative capacity. I offer these suggesting to increases your creativity:

1. Having the desire- Leaders have to have a desire and openness to becoming more creative. Knowing the benefits and importance of creativity can cause us to see why we should become a creative leaders. Your desire will cause you to engage in activates that will increase your creativity.

2. Get going- To become more creative, get your body and mind going. This means you engaging in activities which circulates your blood, increases your heart rate, stretches your brain, or causes you to think.  Examples include: exercising, playing a board game, taking a shower, reading or listening to something interesting. These activities will releases chemicals into your body and brain that can cause you to generate new thoughts and ideas. It’s important once you have gotten your body and mind going that you take time to concentrate on a specific problem, issue, project, or topic. Find what works best for you and then implement it on a regular basis.  

3. Learn inside and outside of your growth areas- When it comes to learning and personal growth we should primarily focus on specific areas. However, learning something new or that is outside of those areas can spark our creativity. Be specific in your growth but also take time to learn new and interesting things. One way I do this is by listening to different Podcasts on Sticher Radio. A few Podcast I listen to that are outside of my normal growth areas include: Stuff to Blow your Mind, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and Stuff you Should Know. These stations allow me to learn and generate new ideas and thoughts. I recommend being deliberate about learning in and outside of your growth areas because when you do you will increase your creativity.

4. Become friends with creative people- If you want to increase your creativity spend time with those who are creative. It’s true you become like those you associate with on a regular basis. When you spend time with creative people you will find their creativity will transfer onto you.

Questions: What are some other ways a leader can increase creativity? What is your secret to increasing your creativity?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Along the same lines as number 3…I try to read books that are outside of my normal reading. Even books I may not necessarily agree with. As a runner I can attest to point 2…I’ve had some great thoughts on a long run. One thing I would add is getting out of your normal surroundings. Take a trip, drive home a different route, go to a different coffee shop, etc. Thanks for sharing great content Dan!

    • Yup, that’s so important Luke. I try to read books around history, literature, humanities and science on a regular basis to create a larger creativity bandwidth. Also, as Dan says, exercising is a must which really just creates lots of creativity horsepower.

      • Those two areas are important for several reason, one being to increase our creativity. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

    • Hello Luke,

      That’s great! Great addition about getting out of our normal surroundings. That’s can defiantly spark our creativity. glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for stopping by.

  • I would add exposing yourself to a broad range of subject matter. The wider your breadth of knowledge, the more you begin to see things differently. Creatively.

    You begin to pick up on different patterns of thought, you begin to connect things in unique ways, and you find inspiration and ideas coming from many different areas.

    Just look at all those famous Renaissance men.

    Cheers!

  • Great post, Dan. We have to challenge ourselves every day to get better in some way. I hate the “think outside the box” cliche; I prefer to think that creativity allows us to think above the problems we’re facing and create solutions that improve processes rather than patch leaks in the system.

    • Thanks Justin. It’s hard to think “outside of the box” when we are in the “box.” It’s about becoming better and sparking our creativity. Glad to hear your thoughts on the topic.

  • I agree with Trevor, having a broad breadth of knowledge allows one to link subject matters together and can increase creativity.

    I get creative by paying attention to things and as in Point 1, by intentionally trying to improve things.

    Not sure I have a secret, but if there’s something I can call a secret, it’s No 4. (like gleaning from Dan’s thoughts)

    • Hello Idukun,

      Ya, @TrevorJayWilson:disqus provided some great advice. Great point about paying attention to things! I’m glad we can glean from each other. That’s so important when it comes to life, growth, and creativity.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • I enjoy cultivating creativity in myself and in others. Love to see someone being creative and enjoying themselves. And, creativity in leadership is great fun to watch, especially when it leads to a group of people getting creative together. I actually wrote a couple of posts on the topic last fall. The link is http://www.struggletovictory.com/how-to-cultivate-your-creativity-part-1-of-2/ if you are interested. There are some good resources in there, including one really good book that also had some humor in it that made it even better. Great tips on a topic that I would love to see more people invest in for their own lives.

    • Thank you for sharing your post Kari! Looking forward to reading it and I know others readers would enjoy it as well. Creativity among an individual or/and team produces great results. Plus, like you said it’s fun to watch other people share their creativity. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      • Thanks for checking them out. I thought they connected well with what you wrote. This was a fun topic to research, and I was actually asked to present on it at our local chamber. It was received well. The most fun for me as a mom is watching my boys develop their creativity. They are very different from one another but both tremendously creative. Such joy!

        • Your welcome. I really enjoyed reading them. It’s a great topic. I’m sure that’s fun to watch your boys develop their creativity. I can’t wait to see my son do the same thing (or even more).

  • Love this blog post Dan. Couple of thoughts here. As a student of organizational development, creativity is vital for innovation. I came across a book called Borrowing Brililance by David Kord Murrary where he talks about how it’s vital to “borrow brilliance.” For example, Bill Gates “borrowed brilliance” to create Microsoft, Steve Jobs “borrowed” to create the Mac, and long before that Sir Isaac Newton used similar thinking techniques to arrive at his theory of gravity. He says that when we study different subjects that are beyond the parameters of your main expertise, you learn to bring in those outside concepts and incorporate it into your expertise creating breakthrough innovation. This is a very unique approach and is against the “best-practices” approach many leaders and organizations seem to be embracing. Here’s a cool TEDx video to check out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6PTLz-mfyg

    • DS

      Great conversation about about how to infuse what you consume.

    • Hello Paul,

      That sounds like a great book! I’m adding it to my book list. I like that, “borrow brilliance.” Learning from other people/leaders is a great way to grow and cause us to become more creative. Thanks for sharing the video:) It’s always great hearing from you!

  • DS

    A great reason this is important is because we may box ourselves in if we aren’t allowing other material, thoughts, and people to expose us to ideas. Plus they can push our own ideas beyond the limits we’ve place on them.

    • Great point David! We defiantly want to stay away from the “box” of mediocre or the mundane. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • I like the list! I think leaders should naturally be looking to be creative due to the competitive nature of business. The best part of the business of change is that it gives us a chance to use the gift of creativity that is born in us.

    • Hello Floyd,

      Glad you enjoyed the list:) Great point about creativity being born in us. I totally think that anyone can increase in creativity. It’s more a trait than a nature talent. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion. I always enjoy hearing from you.

  • Thanks for sharing this! I agree…leaders must be creative.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Brandon. It’s great to see that you stopped by to read and share. I hope your doing well.

  • Simple concise and to the point is how I like it Dan. All we should do is look at other Leaders that may have made mistakes in this area and go in the other direction. Or look at successful individuals and invite them out for dinner, and pick their brain. Having a mentor with fresh ideas is always a way to stay sharp on what you do and make the creative juices flow.

    • Observing others and being intentional about connecting with other leaders are great additional ways to spark our creativity. I know when talking with you and some of the other bloggers, I get a lot of good ideas and thoughts. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Great topic and ideas Dan. Especially the idea of exposing ourselves to information and ideas outside of our focus areas.

    Also, many of us need to redefine creativity and realize we are all creative. If we don’t view ourselves as a creative person, we stifle our creativity. Every sentence we formulate in our mind and speak or write is a creative act. We are creative each time we dress ourselves or choose what to eat for breakfast…the list of how we are all creative is endless.

    Recognizing and embracing how creative we are will nurture and grow our ability to be even more creative. Dismissing our creativity diminishes our creativity.

    • Thanks Alan:) Great point, creativity is a trait that can be grown and not a talent a select few have. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation. I appreciate it.

      • I remember reading a book on creativity years ago and the author began by saying we are all creative but most of us don’t think so. I certainly didn’t see myself as a creative person then and it was an eye-opener for me.

        • That’s a great lesson to learn:)

  • These are great and I would add be original. Too many times we get inspired by great leaders and want to copy them. It’s great to learn from them, use their methods but the implementation has to be all us, that’s what makes it creative.

    • I totally agree. We can use other peoples successes or failures as guides BUT it’s essential that we are original. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • I’m sure this probably goes along with your last point Dan, but one of the things I try to do is spend as little time as possible in my own bubble and be in brainstorming-type environments as much as possible. i find my creative juices firing more.

    • Hello Bill,

      Great additional point. It’s important that leaders get out and about and also take time to be around others. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • Hi Dan, I would add a willingness to take risk and as part of that, not afraid to make a mistake. We need to press ourselves to experiment and try something out of the norm.

    • Hello Jon,

      That’s a great point. Being willing to get outside our comfort zones and take risks is huge. Thank you for sharing. It’s great to hear your thoughts on this topic.

  • Allow and encourage failures. It’s difficult to do this but the payoff, in the end, is well worth it.

    • Great additional point Joe! Failure is a great teaching opportunity and can spark our creativity.

  • DaveArnold16

    Great post, Dan. I like the point about spending time with creative people. When I talk with you, Drew, Kimanzi, etc., I get fired up.
    Iron sharpening iron!

    • Thanks Dave:) That’s such an important one. I feel the same way when talking with you and those other guys. Great passage. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Theodore Nwangene

    A very thoughtful post Dan,
    I so much agree with your points, one of my best ways as you mentioned here is to make friends with those people that has achieved or done what you’re trying to do before and then, learn from them. Never forget to ask questions because he who cannot ask cannot live.

    Get out of your comfort zone, explore new things and then, watch your creativity grows. Creative people are also risk takers therefore, you must learn to take risks, do things that failures hate doing. That s why they said that…. If you want to feel fabulous, do something you’ve been afraid of doing.

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a thought provoking post Dan.

    • Thank you Theodore,

      Yes, associating with other successful and creative people is a must for us. Great additional points. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Some of the biggest influencers of all time were less leaders in the traditional sense, and more creative, writers, musicians, etc. Where would we be without Thomas Paine, Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, Woody Guthrie, and John Lennon. I think we refer to people as these as thought leaders

    • Great points Dan! Thought leaders are always great to watch. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • These are great ideas to build creativity. It’s such a hard thing to build, but I think it can be done. For me, I try to immerse myself in creative things as much as possible. And that can come from anywhere. Music, art, movies, books. Anything that stretches my mind and shows me a new way of doing things. Even if I’m not interested directly in the area, I think it can benefit you. You never know where an idea will take you. I’ve had some really good ideas come from the most unlikely places.

    • Hello Steve,

      I think it’s more about being intentional about sparking our creativity than it is anything else. Anyone can increase their creativity if they focus on doing the things that will spark it. Those are great ways to increase creativity. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

    • This is why I’ve started leaving notebooks around – in the car, nightstand, etc… If I don’t capture the idea that came from an unlikely place, I’ll lose it!

      • Great idea, I have Evernote as a phone app. and I’m almost always around my phone.

  • Great tips.
    One thing I’ve found helpful for me is making sure I get plenty of rest. I can go on little sleep for awhile, but after time it starts to affect my productivity. A good nights rest and time away (doing restful or fun things) is vital for me being able to tap into my creativity and to learn new things.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them TC Avey! That’s a great point, rest really is needed if we expect to be creative. I know it works wonders for me. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • I added those stations to my Stitcher! Thank you for the recommendation! I call it “get out and get inspired.” I’ll walk home a different way, or drive a new route to a familiar place and I always see something new or meet a stranger and learn something or at least get inspired. I’m feeling more creative right now :)

    • Great, another one I forget to put on the list is Freakonomics. Great points, it’s important to break away from our normal routine. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • I like that points 2-4 feed right back into your first point of having the desire to become more creative. Also, thanks for providing some of the podcasts you lean on as resources.

    Great post

    • Hello Sean,

      It all starts with a desire:) I highly recommend checking some of them out. They are interesting Podcasts. Thank you for joining the discussion.

  • Hi Dan

    Being creative makes you feel alive. It is so easy to get stuck with doing the same thing day after day just like a robot. So many jobs are like that and give you very little opportunity to be creative.

    I am finding that “Ted Talks” Videos are a wonderful source for discovery. Not sure how I got on to their email list, but I never know what the subject is going to be about. I have been studying educational psychology lately and I happen to get to watch some videos that were right up there on topic. Stretching the mind gives us an edge up on living to the fullest.

    I like to be creative in so many different areas. There was a number of years that the desire to create was stifled due to the job I was tied to. No longer have to deal with that anymore and I realize I am not who they ever thought I was.

    Mary

    • Hello Mary,

      Great thoughts about creativity, it sure does make a person feel alive!

      Ted Talks are a great resource to grow and spark our creativity. I don’t watch them as much as I should though. That’s going to change:)

      Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion. It’s always great to hear from you.

  • I like your suggestions of continuing to learn. It makes a huge difference in creativity. As someone who struggles more with focus than creativity, I would suggest that you make sure that not all your colleagues are the creative types. You’ll have great ideas, but implementation will be tough. :-)

    • Great point, it’s important to have a well rounded team. Those who generate great ideas and those who are able to put action behind it. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

      • Dan, I’m your elder :-) so just wanted to say how proud I am of the leader you have become. God is really going to bless you in this regard. Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom.

        • Thank you so much Melanie:) It’s a blessing that you would say that, it really encourages me. Thank you for reading and your friendship.

  • This is a great article Dan. I never used to see myself as a creative, even though I’ve always been an imaginative and forward thinking person. On top of your the points you’ve shared, I’ve found that creativity is sometimes borne out of desperation. Running out of typical options, being at a tight place often releases creative juices. i don’t like being in a corner (at all!) but i find i can get very creative then. So am learning not to despise those rope-end moments :)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it:) Great points! Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Hi Dan, been a while. It was refreshing to read this post. I think another great part of creativity which you touched on is To make introspection a part of one’s day. It creates the time and space for a burst of ideas

    • Its sure has, how have you been? Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation. It’s always great to hear from you:)

  • Hi Dan,

    Desire comes first :) I don’t think someone be creative just because he/she knows about the benefits of it. But it will inspire someone to be creative. Everyone can be creative if they let themselves to be. It’s non-stoppable and enjoyable. Isn’t it?

    I find #3 helps me a lot Dan :) Eventhough I gain knowledge and explore areas that I’ve never bothered to, I can link them with subjects I really interested in and help me brainstorm ideas 😉

    It’s true – Creatives inspire others to assess their creativity :) Creativity is invaluable but when it’s not genuine, I don’t find any benefits there though.

    Cheers…

    • Hello Mayura,

      Yes, hopefully some of the benefits would spark the desire to become creative. I’ve learned #3 is helpful in sparking creativity among many other positive things. Thank you for taking the time to read and share. I always enjoy reading your thoughts.