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    Women Business Leaders: How Do You Encourage Creative Thinking?

    My professional life has always been focused on the creative process. Whether at the start of my career as a fashion designer, running radio stations in the Northeast, or for the past 13 years owning an integrated communications firm. For me, and as a woman business leader, creativity involves taking risks, believing in myself and embracing change.

    As I become comfortable with my new identity, a breast cancer survivor, I find that creative thinking has permeated how I have coped. I have moved out of the expected mode of behavior and have experimented with new paths for my future. Creative thinking enhances and adds dimension to every aspect of my life.

    It is also really important to me that my team has a platform for innovative thinking. I find these tips from blogger Michael Hyatt very useful:

    1- Hold my own counsel
    When meeting with the team I lead, it is usually best if I don’t go first. I might see the solution more quickly or be tempted to cut to the chase. The problem is that this inhibits everyone else’s creativity. The discussion then quickly becomes political. People start measuring their words. They are hesitant to disagree with me. As a result, I don’t get the best thinking of the group.

    2- Enlist outside resources
    If you aren’t constantly refilling the creative pool, it will eventually run dry. This is why I routinely buy books and give them to my colleagues to read. I also encourage them to attend conferences. (I try to attend as many as I can myself.) Consultants can also be helpful. They can offer a fresh, outside-in perspective that broadens the creative palette.

    3- Affirm creative thinking
    I believe that you get more when you “notice and affirm.” If I want more innovative thinking, I have to notice it and publicly affirm it. When introducing people, I like to brag on their creativity: “This is Jane Smith. She was the one who first started using social media in our company for customer service.” I also like to send email affirmations and copy the person’s boss. Recognition is a huge motivator for most of us.

    4- Create a safe environment
    By safe, I mean safe for dissent. Make it okay for people to disagree with you. If people don’t feel safe, they will only parrot your ideas. This means you will never be any more creative as a team than you could be on your own. However, I believe that my team can be much more creative than I can be on my own—so long as I give them the freedom to express themselves without fear of me embarrassing them.

    What are some ways you have encouraged creativity within your organization? How do you reward the creative process?

    One Response to “Women Business Leaders: How Do You Encourage Creative Thinking?”

    1. [...] have written often about how important it is to encourage and motivate creativity to nurture a positive company culture. How does your organization’s management apply these [...]

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