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Control kills creativity


June 10, 2021

By Rowan Van Dyk

Control kills creativity

3 min

A successful business needs to have a responsible leader at the helm; someone that tells others what their roles will be and what they should have completed and when it is due. A responsible leader should also be there to field questions and concerns about the task at hand and devote all time and energy to ensuring they provide the necessary resources to their employees so they can exceed expectations. Issues arise when micromanagement becomes prominent throughout the working process. People love feeling trusted, and when you feel that your team has proved themselves as trustworthy, allow them to perform their duties without overseeing every single aspect of their job.

The inability to leave your employees alone will have them feeling as if they can do nothing right and does little to make them feel important and necessary. It is imperative to communicate what you expect from your employees, and how you want the job done, but as soon as you’ve done that, take a step back. Allow those who are working for you, those who may be putting in extra or overtime hours, and have studied and earned degrees and certifications, to perform the job they have set out to do. As a leader, set guidelines for your employees about what you expect from them, and when the time comes to inspect their progress, voice your displeasure or approval. When you send them back to correct or modify their work, leave them alone until they request your help. Place your trust in them and they will work hard to meet your wishes.

In Philippians chapter 2 verse 3,Paul instructs us “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”(NLT)

Some of the practices that can kill creativity through control are:

Don’t be a procedures fanatic. Creativity is driven by free-thinking and not by processes or systems; it’s generated by human talent and finding different ways of doing things.

Procedures and policies are important in any team, but the creative confidence will drive individuals to take your team to new heights and find newer and better ways of boosting your bottom-line performance.

If team creatively is constantly blocked, you as the leader should examine whether the procedures that surround your team are holding them hostage in their thinking. Following rules to stringently can hinder collaborative brainstorming, ant the team may feel they have no flexibility to express outside options that contradict the standard process and way things have always been done. If this is the case, try removing the limitations of particular procedural structures during creative sessions, so that everyone can feel freer to contribute without bureaucratic constraint.

Free the robots. In the ideal world, teams that are truly empowered to exercise their creativity are purposeful, engaged, and inspired todo great things, finding ways to make life better for stakeholders of the organization. It is critical for today’s leaders to provide the right environment for teams to tap into their full range of creative thinking and ability. The fact is that while research shows that 80% of people see unlocking creative potential as a key to economic growth, only 25% feel that they are living up to their own creative potential. From the employer side, McKinsey’s research has revealed that an overwhelming majority of executives — 94% — are unhappy with the innovative performance of their company. With AI gaining more and more momentum, it is obvious that unless robots can become creative, the problem will persist.

To facilitate experimentation and encourage people to see what works and what doesn’t, work on creating an environment of workplace safety —create Leader-Rings, refer to Lesson 12 for more detail, and re-instill trust. To inspire creativity, leaders should also encourage healthy conflict and debate, and allow people to experiment and fail every so often. Instead of micromanaging, empower others and give them free rein to explore and take risks, which can lead in unexpected directions.

At one point in time, we had to move our offices to larger premises. The contractual agreement was that we had to restore the old office to its original condition. Part of the process was that we had repaint the walls.

I did not have the time to do this myself, so I appointed one of the guys that work for me to complete the tasks with strict instructions of how many coats and that he was not to mess.

He proceeded to paint the offices and I went to check upon him regularly. He was not painting at the speed I would have painted at, and he had messed paint on the skirting boards. I was so tempted to tell him to leave it and go back to the office so that I could finish it, but then I realized that if I did not let him continue, he would never gain the experience. It took all my self-control to hold back and let him finish. He ended up doing an awesome job and even managed to clean all the skirting boards as well.

Creative or not? Everyone possesses the foundation to be creative, which starts with team members believing in themselves as idea generators who have the ability to become a compelling voice for creative concepts. We are born creative but then we are forced throughout life to subdue that creativity.

When someone on the team thinks differently to others —encourage it — thinking the same as others means you are not thinking and self-limiting belief or assumption that can sabotage success.

As a Relational Leader, part of your role in managing teams is to use emotional intelligence to determine whether any team members are unknowingly holding themselves back from tapping into their talents and full potential. If even one person hides their creative light under a bushel, the whole team suffers.

To become change makers, your team needs to hear a variety of voices and get a variety of perspectives. Urge them to work across boundaries by asking questions like:

·       Who else do we need to involve?

·       What other parts of the organization could help with this?

·       Who has perspective on this topic/issue/area that we don’t or can’t have?

·       How should we connect with them?

·       What can I do to help create that connection?

·       How can we do things differently?

Organizations that succeed are no longer the ones that change top-down, or where innovation is expected only from certain people or roles. Winning teams build change agility into the heart of their culture. That’s why change leadership is no longer just something you do. It’s a large part of who you are. And that means building “change muscle memory” in yourself and your teams. These five everyday practices are a great way to start.

Expand their comfort zones. As part of coaching team members to expand their comfort zones, it’s vital to help them understand how to develop a growth mindset. This term, coined by Dr. Carol Dweck refers to how a person thinks about their own abilities related to intelligence and learning. People with a growth mindset possess an underlying belief that they can improve through their own effort. They accept setbacks and don’t see them as failures, but rather as opportunities for growing and learning through a process of gradual improvement. When your team gets stuck and the creative juices stop flowing, you as the leader should coach the team members, explaining how they can continue to develop their skills over time, learn from their mistakes and make improvements. In short, developing a growth mindset is about helping people move from fear to courage, and beyond perfectionism to seek a level of excellence that’s “good enough.” This leadership challenge calls for guiding people to step out of the norm, stop following other people’s norms and set their own course.