As a leadership coach and process facilitator, I’ve had the chance lately to witness effective leadership (and change) as a co-creative process. We’ve written in the past about how leadership is a creative act; co-creation adds a new dimension to the interactions and conversations that comprise leadership.
Co-creation is the act of working together with one or more other people to create something new, something different—something better. The creative process is inherently curious because it seeks to discover new things—new ways of thinking, of perceiving, of doing. I’ve witnessed how powerful that type of curiosity can be in the context of leadership and the context of creating positive change.
Curiosity Breeds Connection
Because curiosity is a desire purely to learn and discover, it is unhampered by judgment and unfiltered by expectations. When a leader approaches interactions and change from a position of creative curiosity, conscious communication and discovery occur.
Curiosity and discovery are open, inviting processes with great room to welcome perspectives, ideas, and participation from others. This seeds the process of co-creation, in which a team together takes a journey to a new, different, and better place.
The following are examples where I've witnessed curiosity and co-creation improve both leadership and the leader’s experience of leadership. Can you identify what lenses and filters these leaders WEREN'T using? What would your habitual reaction have been?
- During a team meeting, not all individuals on the team were participating enthusiastically. Rather than focus on convincing those team members to come on board, the leader instead allowed them to experience the meeting as they were. Why? He recognized that different aspects of creativity and discovery come alive in individuals at different moments—that every person in the room was having a unique experience, and that was okay. This freed the leader from judgement, persuasion or problem solving, opening more space for creativity and collaboration. He followed up with each person individually for their input, and later brought their insights to the collective discussion.
- In a meeting with a staff member who was unhappy about the lack of contribution that another person was making to a shared project, the leader let go of her standard approach of trying to “solve the problem”. Rather than providing answers, opinions, and directions she instead listened and coached the staff member to recognize what her own needs were in the situation, and how she (not her manager) could approach having her needs met. This approach empowered the staff member and encouraged a collaborative, co-creative approach to resolve the team member’s struggles.
For me, both of these instances stood in stark contrast with what I often see occur. In these instances, I witnessed leaders let go of a desire to control the situation. Rather, they connected meaningfully with what each co-creator needed in those moments to lead themselves and better contribute to the whole.
It’s Within Your Grasp
The approach to leadership and change “management” can seem so simple on paper. In many ways it is: the steps to get there are straightforward, and having a plan is meant to simplify interactions between people. But the realities of leadership and change are far removed from the way we are hardwired, and it’s outside of the methods of communication and “problem solving” that are entrenched in business processes and “best practices” today. This makes it more difficult to achieve—but I truly believe that anyone can learn it. And, I believe that it will transform you team, organization and bottom line results.
My mission is to bring this new lens and language of co-creation and curiosity into all of my coaching and facilitation. I will coach leaders and their team members using this new, more prosperous language to achieve their objectives and to affect lasting change.
Please give me a call! The first coaching conversation is always free.