Unleashing Creative Power

This is a guest post by Marc Millan. He is a worship pastor and fellow blogger.

When it comes to ideas and costs, as leaders we try to get as much information as possible before pulling the trigger on a new project. How ever, what we sometimes fail to realize is that in reaching the point of “approval” for a new idea, concept or project there are several phases that happen before we reach that final result.

First, you have the innovation (this is the fun, artist, imagination part)

Second, comes the realization (I consider this the reality check for costs and possibility)

Finally you have the execution (this is the PROCESS stage, finality and delivery).

There a few key components, that when leading creative meetings allow your team to really thrive in. Here they are:

  1. Lead from behind- When we think of leadership, we automatically assume we need to be out in front on everything and this is a misconception. Leadership doesn’t mean YOU have to do everything, it also doesn’t mean you are the most talented or brightest person, there are actually some pretty smart people around us all the time. The leader’s job is to know how to put it all together and by approaching leadership this way, we allow those around us to develop, rise and shine. By leading behind we encourage leadership in others, we encourage initiative and we plant the seeds of high trust, high accountability in our teams.
  1. Listen more, talk less- The best way to get ideas is to listen to a lot of them. When ever you are hosting a brainstorm or creative meeting be sure to have some goals in mind to set out in front of the team but just start the conversations, start the thinking in others and let THEM take the idea building from there. This way you not only encourage confidence and “buy in” with your team, by them sharing their ideas with everyone but you are also able to take it all in and focus in on what you believe are the best ideas.
  1. Keep ideas and logistics separated- Ok, when we are dreaming up new ideas the last thing you want is someone analyzing how much it costs, how hard and how insane the idea is! You need to figure out who are your most enthusiastic, imaginative people are and separate them from the ones who count the costs, analyze and develop operations. Here is what can happen quickly, someone comes up with an amazing idea and right away another person says “do you know how much that’s gonna cost?”, I guarantee you that the ideas will stop right there. Don’t kill the flower just as it’s starting to bloom, give it sunlight, air to breath, get all of your ideas first, then take it to the ones who can give you a reality check on them.

These are some personal experiences that have allowed me to thrive in creativity but I have also enjoyed them when leading as well.

Question: What other ways can we unleash creativity in others?

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

  • I loved your comments on leading from behind. So many leaders delegate simply the grunt work – not the authority, not the ability to shine. But that’s a distinguishing characteristic of great leaders.

    • Anonymous

      I also really liked that point. Thank you for sharing.

  • I really like your point about keeping ideas and logistics separate. Both types of people are needed for any project to be successful, but they sure can kill each other in the process if not handled properly.

    • Anonymous

      So true. Thank you for reading.

  • I like your perspective Marc.

    Especially # 1 and # 3.

    In the past, I never really kept ideas and logistics separated…thus ended up having fiery or long-winded meetings. I now see how I can do things differently (still mulling over how to “separate” though cos they are usually in the same room :)

    But I see the principle here.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Glad it helped.

  • Brandon

    Another great guest post!

    Listen more, talk less- The best way to get ideas is to listen to a lot of them…so true!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for stopping by and reading.

      • Brandon

        No problem!

  • I think reading and ‘seeing’ as in exposure are also important to unleash creativity. Often times, ideas are sparked from an evolution of an existing idea or innovation. For instance, Apple computers evolved from PC, and iPods evolved from Walkman :)

    • Anonymous

      Such a great example and point. Thank you for reading.

  • Spencer McDonald

    Leading from behind. Nice idea. I think with equate to motivating people rather than having any visible plan. Now as a leader you certainly have a plan and the secret is to not play what is in your hand, rather to empower others to find out what you hold. This is real power. A leader should use the power of an effective question to help others discover what the lead holds in his or her hand without telling.

    Listen more and talk less. I agree. This has been my quest this year as I improve my own leadership abilities. It has worked because others have said how much I have grown this year. That is a real compliment and helps me to understand how far I have come in 2011.

    Keep ideas and logistics separate. Certainly, and easier said than done. Here is how I do it. I have team create business plans. These plans include goals, plans, and action. These plans also show that some times it cost money to make (save) money. We build return on investment models so that leaders can see the savings. Then the dollars are an easier sale. Teams can no longer slam their fist on the table and say, “It’s good because I said so.” We now have proof and use it to motivate our leaders to break out the check book.

    Very nice post. Thanks so much.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for adding even more value to the post Spencer. I have also seen the many benefits that come from talking less and listening more. Something every leader needs to know how to do.

  • I was watching a documentary on Steve Jobs about a month ago and some of the items you’ve mentioned resonated with what he was saying. The thing that comes immediately to mind is when, in the video, Steve Jobs designated his role as the keeper of the vision. He was there to make sure no shortcuts were taken, no aesthetic details were sacrificed because of cost measures, and that someone was there to bring the idea from concept to product.

    • Anonymous

      Steve Jobs was a perfect example of a leader. Thank you for sharing about this. Do you by chance remember the site or have the link so I and other readers can watch the video?

  • Jim F.

    I worked on a staff where we would have what we called “creative meetings”. We would come up with series and special services and things like that – when we would do this we would go to odd places and have fun and talk about it – one of us best ideas come on a driving range and another walking through IKEA. The main thing we did the most was talk about the Sunday Sermon. We would allow the one who was speaking which was the senior Pastor 95% of time to go over their sermon and we would throw out ideas, suggestion, and illustrations. I think just brainstorming itself is the most effective tool as well as changing the scenery at times.

    • Anonymous

      This is such a great example of having a team be creative. Having your team brainstorm is a great way to unleash creative power. l like the Japanese quote, “None of us are as smart as all of us.”