How Transformational Leaders Shape Creative Organizations

How Transformational Leaders Shape Creative Organizations

This is a guest article by Zach Yentzer. Zach is the author of Creative – Designing Churches that Engage Generations Together, which just released and you can pick up a copy here. He also curates an online network of creative leaders and innovators at 100 Creative Cities, and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife and new baby daughter!


At the very close of 2016, renowned author and speaker Simon Sinek did an interview with a YouTube series called Inside Quest on effective leadership. The closing segment of the conversation was titled “The Millennial Conversation.”

If you were on the internet much at all the first couple months of 2017, you probably saw the clip, and clips of the clip, passed around. It went viral.

“This is exactly what is wrong with THIS generation” read one take.

Sinek himself was surprised that it took off like it did.

But in the midst of the Millennial bashing that inevitably happened, most missed his point.

Sinek’s big, overarching idea in all his work is that leaders are responsible for creating incredible environments where people feel safe, wanted, effective, and released to fulfill their potential.

Leadership is not just about vision, execution, direction – it’s also hugely about environment.

In my recent book Creative – Designing Churches that Engage Generations Together, I tried to figure out what makes for incredible environments where generations come together to launch people and ideas.

Here were a few things that stood out.

Openness to Growth

In creative organizations, there are clear goals, deliverables, and metrics for the organization itself, but there’s an underlying emphasis on the fulfilled potential of each and every person involved.

In the early 15th century, small little workshops in Florence Italy called bottegas laid the foundation for what became the Renaissance. They were places that brought artists, thinkers, and scientists together to come up with fresh ideas.

They were places that changed theirs, and our world.

Leading each workshop was a Master Artist who had specific focus and skill, and he brought around him apprentices to be a part of it. But these apprentices weren’t micromanaged – they didn’t all have to share the same exact interest and passion. They were free to, along the process of working at the bottega, discover and launch into what they were most interested in. Maybe it was architecture, drawing, painting, etc. This individual, but collective growth, created exponential impact.

Transformational leaders shape organizations that provide learning and growing opportunities for the people involved.

Mentorship for Growth

One of my favorite leadership stories is told by General Electric CEO Jack Welch in 1999. In this story he was meeting with one of his top executives in the company, who told him that he was really excited about being mentored.

Welch recalls being very surprised. This leader was the best of the best – what did he need mentored for?

Turns out he had tapped a younger coworker to sit down with I’m and share what he was seeing in the world, what new technological changes were happening, etc. This executive was participating in reverse mentorship!

When Welch returned from this meeting, he requested all his executives do the same. In his words, it tipped his organization upside-down and catapulted it forward as it became more in tune with a rapidly changing world and the people who knew it best.

While this story may not have turned out like you thought it would at first, mentorship of all kinds in an organization are healthy, and vitally necessary. In Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey, mentorship was at the very top of the list when it came to things that would retain and develop young talent in businesses and organizations.

Transformational leaders shape organizations that provide mentorship and relational learning for all generations involved.

Pipelines for Growth

Remember the Master Artist in the bottega?

When his young apprentices discovered something that they were truly passionate about, he did his best to connect them with the financial resources and other skilled people who could help them fulfill it.

He didn’t shut them down, tell them they weren’t important enough, or that they were there just to do what he told them to do.

In the book I call these types of things pipelines for growth.

It’s what comes after noticing talent, and great ideas.

If someone in an organization sees a flaw in how something is done or in a certain process, how easy is it for them to approach the leadership and suggest changes? Does that organization provide the tools and ways to execute that suggested improvement? If someone sees a new thing that needs to be done, are there people and investment available to take from idea to execution?

Transformational leaders shape organizations where people have the tools and resources they need to grow and improve themselves and their organization.

Question: How do you shape and transform your team or organization?

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