We surround ourselves with clients who we constantly challenge to be agile, dynamic leaders, so they can generate new approaches to problem-solving, make things happen and getting things done. Creativity, by definition, is the process of developing something new that has value or use. For us, creativity isn't simply about doing something new. We take it futher.
Should we then think of great leadership as a creative act?
Heck ya! Like other creative acts, great leadership requires courage and effort. It takes mental effort to overcome habitual ways of thinking and it requires even more grey matter to get others on board with new ideas, and to accept and engage with a new way of doing things. This creative dimension of leadership is so exciting: new ideas are birthed and everyone's mind is doing virtual high fives... It's that lightbulb moment we like to call a braingasm—it's exciting, invigorating and fruitful!
“Creativity is the epitome of cognitive flexibility. The ability to break conventional or obvious patterns of thinking, adopt new and/or higher order rules, and think conceptually and abstractly is at the heart of any theory of creativity.” – Arne Dietrich
Scientists have explored what is required for us to be creative and to think differently and it's linked to perception and imagination. It means that in order to think creatively, you must develop new neural pathways and break out of the cycle of experience-dependent ways of acting. That takes courage+effort, people!
Unfortunately, the more effort we put into thinking differently about problems, the more the old ways of perceiving our world strengthen. How does that play out in the office? Many leaders have the skill of identifying when a new approach is necessary, but the execution is difficult.
Cognitive Risk Management
Not only does the creative aspect of leadership require a higher levels of effort for the leader and the team, but it also works against the brain’s most deep-rooted, hardwired and favoured pathways. Doing something that has never been tried before is risky business—and the human brain likes to "boo" new ideas off its stage.
And there's more. Research reveals striking similarities between the brain’s reactions to physical and emotional pain. When a person feels that they're in immediate danger, the brain reacts to the threat by prioritizing safety and survival above all else. In the office, that same threat reaction in brain activity shows up when we feel the wounds of uncertainty, or injustice or when our autonomy is taken away.
So, how can we be creative when we are in survival mode?
It's simple but not easy.
We use our P.R.I.S.E. model and Conscious Communication practices to build the capacity to create, produce, or give rise to new ideas and new possibilities. As our clients shift their perspectives, they see that it is not enough to just do new things: Conscious leaders build the capacity to release talents and do things in a new way.
P.R.I.S.E. is an acronym that describes five components of interaction that the human brain needs to feel secure and engaged in life: Predictability, Relatedness, Independence, Status and Equity. We know that feeling secure, or safe, is critical for higher level brain function—such as creativity—to occur. Creating a secure state is also necessary to mitigate the brain’s seductive survival response.
As part of our leadership development and coaching services, we enable leaders to acquire skills that help them bring those five P.R.I.S.E elements to all leadership interactions. If you would like to learn more, please contact us. We are always happy to provide a free initial consultation.
"When you walk out after the Ultimate Leadership Training, you will see the world with totally different eyes. You will have different conversations you didn’t know were possible before you walked in, and you will begin to shift the future you can create with others. You won't want to go back to the way things were."
– Senior Executive, Ultimate Leadership Training participant