If You Want To Raise The Odds Of Creative Success, It’s Time To Start Thinking About Leadership

If You Want To Raise The Odds Of Creative Success, It’s Time To Start Thinking About Leadership

Create March 17, 2020 / By Larry Robertson
If You Want To Raise The Odds Of Creative Success, It’s Time To Start Thinking About Leadership

Creating is leading. If that's news to you, it's time to understand why and then take the lead.

There’s an important aspect of being a creator that creative people often overlook: leadership. The reasons why we overlook this vital element of creativity are more straightforward than you might think. So is how to change things. 

The Fallacy of Being Alone.

Leadership implies more than one person, and usually, more than a handful. Right off the bat then, leadership is in conflict with the tenacious yet false image of creative outputs in any form as products of the solo creator. Even though we know better, we still harbor a myth of the archetype creator as alone – somewhere off in his own creative physical space or her own creative headspace, magically dreaming forth the new and better. But creativity in any lasting form is inevitably a cocreation, and creative breakthroughs themselves, are always an accumulation. The ideas of one person awaken and inspire the ideas of others, driving a process of adding and subtracting, morphing and layering, until what we in hindsight call ‘the’ breakthrough idea only seems immaculately created by one. We are not alone, in any way, ever, even when we retreat into our private spaces for a time to create.

Seeing Leadership as the Position Rather Than the Act.

If you’re like most, chances are that, even unknowingly, you equate leadership with the leader – the executive director, the chief, the coach, or the admiral, in other words, the person at the top of the org chart and the one with the title. Nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership is a collective act. It is the sum of many actions taken by many people. A leader-in-title can catalyze or cramp the living process that is effective leadership, but he or she can never claim all responsibility, nor carry it all either. Every one of us plays a role in forward progress and breakthrough, and it’s a fair argument that those among us who strive to create actually have the most responsibility, regardless of title… as the next point clearly makes.  

Underappreciating Creativity Itself as the Act of Leading.

We don’t often call it out, but to create is in fact to lead. The creative idea itself leads others to see and to think in new ways. Such ideas lead others beyond the invisible borders that define their here and now and into the possible. The creative act is the act of taking the lead. Once we do so, there’s an inherent responsibility to shepherd both the idea and those drawn to it further forward still. If you want to play in the creative space, this is part of the admission. 

Even once you accept just how important leadership is to creativity, the thought and the act of leading may still sound foreign to you. In truth it’s not. If you want leadership at its best, if you yourself want to be the best leader you can be, keep doing what you’re doing while allowing what you do to multiply. The most fundamental elements of creativity apply to leadership as well. Openness… exploring new environments at the edges of what you know… being a practiced noticer… consciously seeking opportunities for ideas to collide with one another to form new ones… all of these elements of productive creativity are also the very things that cultivate thriving leadership. Indeed, it makes the idea of accepting leadership as fundamental to creativity all the easier when you realize that in many ways leadership and creativity are two sides of the same coin, the value of which is no less than human progress itself.

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