The Capacity To Be Creative As A Leader

The capacity to be creative as leaders is considered by many influential leadership thinkers to be the most-needed kind of leadership of our time. This should be welcome news to most leaders, because we can all learn to become more creative. Whether it’s as a formal or informal professional leader or in one’s personal life, it is one of the most available and effective ways for a person to gain a greater sense of control over the turbulence that distracts and consumes so many today. 

The need for people to feel they have some measure of control over some important and meaningful aspect of their lives has never been more widely felt. Harvard Business School’s Stew Friedman defines leadership as “the capacity to mobilize people toward valued goals; that is, to produce sustainable change—sustainable because it’s good for you and for the people who matter most to you.” 

For a leader, or for any other person for that matter, to act with creativity and to be innovative requires that they be willing to experiment with new ways of doing things. The experiments can be and often should be short-term to test their validity. Examples of short-term or test experiments include trying out a new way to delegate; reducing noise and distraction by taking a technology sabbatical; helping others understand your vision for the organization, department or project; or finding a new way to relieve personal stress by exercising. These may seem like small wins, but they can equip leaders for the larger purpose of gaining greater mastery over the skill of leading change. 

Savvy leaders need to be aware that they are almost certain to encounter the three greatest inhibitors to creativity which are:

  • Fear of failure.
  • Guilt about the appearance of being selfish. 
  • Ignorance of or not realizing what is possible.

Overcoming these will strengthen a leader’s capacity to gain greater control in an increasingly uncertain world. 

(Become a More Creative Leader—Think Small by Stew Friedman, Harvard Business Publishing)  

adapted by Gary D. Foster
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Gary D. Foster founded and leads Gary D. Foster Consulting, a marketing and management service specializing in helping religious product companies and ministries discover and optimize new revenue streams and to better leverage existing ones. He served as an executive with Focus on the Family, where he managed their award-winning book publishing operation and $110 million direct-mail fundraising division. He also spent 12 years with the Christian Booksellers Association, where he served as President and CEO of CBA Service Corporation. He also served in executive product development and marketing positions with Cook Communications Ministries, Moody Press and Moody Magazine. Learn more about Gary at