Developing the skill of creativity, like with any other skill, takes time…. Honor its flow and its magic. Allow it to become your Life Force. Train Creativity daily. – Nataša Nuit Pantović,
In Roman religion, the genius was a spirit of divine nature that was present in every individual person, place, or thing. It was said that sometimes people’s own genius would come to visit them – like a guardian angel – and from this interconnection between spirit and man would come great wisdom and inspiration. Later in renaissance times, the Roman genius mixed with Christian theology and it was often implied that the creative genius of artists was in some way divine, as if gifted from god himself. Whatever your opinion on the origin or existence of “genius”, what in management is important to recognize is that creative thoughts and ideas come often in “spark like moments” and hence need given the best opportunity to be let out.
Creative thoughts and ideas should be allowed the chance to come out.
In the work place it is very tempting as a manger to focus on control over influence to tell people what to do and how to do it, over allowing them to work out how to achieve what is needed in their own way. This is the way of people following set procedures over thinking and acting autonomously, the task mentality over the objective mindset. Seeking to control is tempting as a manager as it allows you to maneuver all parts and also in a way avoids you needing to focus on people development. However the problem with controlling people, is it stifles both their own accountability and possibility of being creative. When people are controlled, they don’t need to think about how to do things better, they rather just follow what they have been told or shown.
Seeking to control over to influence is a sure way to stifle creativity.
A characteristic of great managers is the ability to encourage their staff to be creative, to let out their genius. Of course there will always be the need for some set procedures, especially in dangerous jobs, but where possible fixed step by step procedures should be kept to tasks we are certain must be done in set ways, i.e. due to safety precautions. In general staff should know frameworks for ways of doing things and learn from tip on how to do things from past experience but likewise where possible we should avoid setting fixed ways of doing things as this will limit both their ownership of the objective and their willingness to think about the best ways of achieving it. People need to feel free to propose new ideas, to chose their own ways and to some degree people need allocated creative thinking time at work. The job of a great manager is not to limit this creative thinking but rather to channel it on to something constructive to achieve.
Great managers don’t limit creative thinking, rather they harness and channel it on to achieving something.
Managers should be using stewardship delegation to pass on objectives to their team. Within this they should be encouraging creative thought, getting people to spend some time on thinking up new solutions or alternative ways of doing things. Of course not all ideas that staff come up with will be good ones, but great managers will teach staff why an idea wasn’t the right one rather than just giving up on creative process as it important to not kill the staff member’s desire to come up with an alternative. Great managers understand that a key component of staff really being accountable is owning their objective in thought as well as just as an assigned responsibility.
Staff who think creatively about their responsibilities are more often even more accountable.
So how can you bring out genius – creativity – in your staff? First of all recruit people who think for themselves, ask scenario questions to spot how creative candidates are but of course align what type of creative thinking you are looking for to the work you have to offer. Secondly, actively practice stewardship delegation and consistently sponsor objective (not task) mindsets. Encourage people to express themselves and their ideas and train them in the correct communication forum for expressing these. Also is posible set a small amount of active daily thinking time, making sure staff know to keep that time free of doing things. Then encourage your staff to use designated meetings and feedback sessions as forums for sound boarding these ideas. Make sure to reward great ideas that make a difference as this further encourages active creative thinking from other team players. During this whole process you will need to make sure to channel these ideas onto the objectives your work needs to achieve but as a great leader you should welcome this challenge and see it as part of the professional development you give your staff.
Great managers catch moments of genius and inspire those around them to do the same.