In nearly every industry, creativity reigns supreme as one of the most sought-after characteristics—for leaders, employees and company culture. But as a leader in your business, it can seem like a daunting task to infuse creativity into your day-to-day operations (things need to get done, after all!). Plus, what if you, yourself, aren’t the “creative type”? How could you lead the charge for creativity without being a model creator?
I’m here to tell you: You can do it. No matter who you are, or how “creative” you may be.
Cultivating a creative culture requires more than just flashy brainstorm sessions and a bountiful brain at the helm. In fact, neither of those things is necessary—or even recommended! Instead, here are the six keys for leading your company towards a culture of creativity.
1. All Eyes AREN’T On You
It’s often assumed that for a creative culture to thrive, a company needs a prolific creative mind in the lead. But that is simply not true. A role of a creative leader is to foster an environment conducive to creativity—not to have the best, or the most, ideas. As a leader, it’s your job to encourage your team to feel confident in exploring new ideas. You are the facilitator, not the muse.
2. Cultivate Confidence
For some people, the word “creativity” sends them running for the hills (or perhaps, just has them saying: that’s not me). As a leader, encourage all of your team members to see themselves as creative thinkers—remind them that they don’t need to be an artist to be “creative”… open your office or your inbox to accept ideas, big or small, from anyone at anytime… embody the age-old maxim of “no bad ideas.” Do whatever you can to help your team feel comfortable and embolden their creative confidence.
3. Reframe Guardrails
Whether organizational or project-based, guardrails are the number-one excuse for letting creative culture lapse. Instead, encourage your team to use those limitations as inspiration—“how might we create a breakthrough idea despite our guardrails?” (Remember: as a creative leader, you don’t need to have the answer to this question, but you should be the one to ask it.)
The strongest creative ideas come from cross-pollination—that is, having team members from different disciplines and career levels work together, as equals. When your team is siloed within their roles, it can be difficult for them to dream up new solutions. Rather, encourage your team to intermingle, sharing ideas and expertise across specialties that can inspire new, breakthrough ways of thinking.
5. Be Consistent
Having a “creative culture” isn’t about scheduling once-in-a-blue-moon brainstorms or workshops; it’s an ever-present philosophy. (Plus, the more often you think creatively, the easier it becomes.) Continually foster creative energy in your organization… encourage your team to routinely invite cross-functional personnel to meetings, remind them your inbox is an open-forum for new ideas, or whatever other processes work for your specific organization.
6. No Pressure
Don’t put pressure on yourself or others to “be creative.” A creative culture is not about meeting some sort of creativity quota. It’s simply setting the stage and inviting ideas to flow. Sure, deadlines and project goals will create urgency at times, but creativity thrives when it has the freedom to breathe and grow.
Leading your team towards a creative culture may seem like your personal Everest, but with these six tips in mind, you will be able to transform your team’s environment into one that’s primed for creativity and innovation.
If you’d like to share some of your own tips for building a creative culture, connect with me on LinkedIn. For more creative inspiration, you can check out my article, 5 Creative Habits for “Non-Creative” People, or dive into Seed’s free digital magazine, The Fire Theft Project: Conversations on Creativity. And, if you’re looking to attend a creativity conference be sure to check out Five Fantastic Creativity Conferences in 2018.
Angela Jones is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy and Associate Editor for Seed’s The Fire Theft Project: Conversations on Creativity. She specializes in inspiring creative thinking and engaging readers with concise copy that captures the essence of ideas.