Thanks to my brother for sending me the link to Ken Robinson on the Principles of Creative Leadership on the Fast Company website. The best piece of it:
The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. So it’s much more about creating climates. I think it’s a big shift for a lot of people.
I found the rest of the article somewhat vague. But I agree with this paragraph. Leaders of many organizations — government, companies, non-profits, clubs, charity events, etc. — could benefit from learning this.
Leaders often mistakenly believe their role is to come up with the new ideas to move their organization forward. They believe they need to chart a course. The followers don’t help, they also often believe this. It’s tempting to try to be the hero and to expect leaders to try to be heroes.
But it is also ineffective and risky. Certainly, it appears to have worked in a few circumstances. Steve Jobs pops to mind. But, I would be willing to bet that there are some unsung heroes even in his success stories.
It’s not ineffective and risky for leaders to come up with new ideas. It’s ineffective and risky when its only their ideas that get attention and organizational resources for several reasons.
Why? Because so many successes are the result of accidental experiments. Somebody’s track record isn’t necessarily a good predictor of their future success. The folks who do have a good number of successes probably have more trials and failures as well.
The reason why this leadership style isn’t prevalent is because few people believe this.
I think back to this and this post on Felix Dennis, publisher and billionaire. He has come up with a number profitable ideas in his day. But, the true secret to his success is how he has harnessed the ideas of others.