To say that creativity is deemed essential for organizations to adapt and flourish these days is a blinding flash of the obvious (a BFO for the acronym lovers out there). In an era of uncertainty, rapid technological, economic and social change, organizations are compelled to be more creative than ever. But here’s the rub: the pressure to be creative can lead to behaviour in organizations that actually stifles rather than stimulates the very creativity so sought after. Balanced Leaders understand that creativity is fostered not forced.
A second BFO is that organizations want positive results. Increases in quarterly revenue for businesses, better test scores in education, reduced waste and energy usage in sustainability projects: these are admirable “bottom line” goals for private and public enterprises based on the drive to push back fear and survive well. But when these objectives are pursued with single-minded focus, time and energy is not being given to new ideas and imaginative solutions. To put it another way, the seeds that ensure continued success are not being planted.
Creativity resides in our passion-based world. We invent, imagine and create in a world freed from time pressures and structural constraints. It’s a world of play, novelty seeking, emotion, exploration and imagination. In this world – unrestrained by the limits of logic, convention and metrics – we can tap into the deep resources of our unconscious for new ways to think about things. To try and mandate or measure during this incubation stage of creativity is counter-productive. Balanced Leaders know when the time is right for putting in place the conditions that support creativity.
Balanced Leadership is, in part, about acknowledging that conditions needed to support the fear-based world are different from those of the passion-based world. Stifling the very creativity organizations want is an unintended consequence of imposing expectations, timelines and action plans from the fear-based world on creative people.
It’s an understandable mistake – organizations want results ahead of the curve. A final BFO is that the way for organizations to avoid the trap of working against yourself is not to try to mandate what matters. Balanced Leaders get this and provide the space and support necessary for creativity to flourish.