Promoting creativity: empower your teams and watch the creativity flow

What can we do to inspire and encourage creativity across a group of people?

All too often a creative leader will have a preconceived vision of what they feel is the clear direction that should be taken and will leave little space for tapping the creativity energy and input from anyone else in the team. This focussed mindset will invariably lead to that leader failing to recognise the strength and capability around them. The result: they’ll be unable to influence their team and the team will be unable to venture outside the box, creatively speaking.

Couple that with a team’s lack of desire to explore new opportunities, to try new things and a fear of failure or getting it wrong due to its impeded creativity and the handicaps are clear.

It never ceases to amaze me how a collective viewpoint can inspire ideas that exist far beyond your own imagination. I also find that what I think is a really great idea often isn’t the case when it comes to the thoughts of my wider group. When I allow my group to think freely, they’ll not only change my mind, but are highly likely to spark a completely new and more exciting approach too.

It’s also inspiring that, quite often, presenting the wrong idea will serve as a springboard for the right idea. I’ll frequently feel unable to know how to start a project until a member of the team puts something in front of me and I’ll instinctively know what has to be changed or adjusted to make the project come together.

This is exactly why I champion failure within a team. It gives the team the space to feel confident to come forward with their ideas – it could also give you the break you badly need.

When people are constrained and believe they won’t have the overriding say in a project, they’ll invariably lack the inspiration to think for themselves. Conversely, when people are empowered to think freely and are rewarded for their ideas – regardless of whether they’re right or wrong – they’ll simply be creative intuitively. They’ll know they’re there for their creative skills and they’ll want to prove their worth every day.

How do we make criticism constructive and fun at the same time?

Criticism should be resisted. It can be soul-destroying for the individual, especially if they’ve devoted time and energy developing the idea they’ve presented to you.

The big question is how to make criticism constructive without being damaging and allow creativity to flourish in the process?

The truth is that even creative visionaries can lack the inspiration to put ideas forward when they’re part of a team that’s over-constrained and governed by controls that dictate what’s right or wrong. Such controls will often come from a remit that’s driven by a dominant, single-track vision. The result: you’ll begin to believe your ideas are neither valued nor valid and, consequently, you’ll hold back and lose confidence.

The real key to unlocking creativity is to give people the opportunity to put forward the wrong idea or to fail without repercussion. Instead, they should hear words of encouragement for putting themselves and their ideas forward in the first place. As a leader, having empathy and patience will encourage different ideas to flow in a safe environment and give team members the confidence to be vulnerable, to speak up and to put their ideas centre stage.

Nurture potential and the creativity will flourish

Great leaders will often see potential in people before they see it themselves. Nurture that potential by encouraging conversation and collaboration and pushing them out of their comfort zones. The creativity will certainly flourish. In essence, by giving them the space and freedom to make decisions for themselves, to have their ideas heard and opinions valued will empower that person and give them the opportunity to grow.

Likewise, if you can delegate tasks, trust your team and encourage them to think for themselves, as a leader you’ll accomplish more and the company, in turn, will move forward in a positive way. When employees feel valued, respected and part of something bigger, they’ll work harder for you and be more engaged in what you do together.

According to studies by the Queens School of Business the Gallup Organization, disengaged workers were responsible for 37% more absenteeism, 49% more accidents and 60% more errors and defects. It is clear to see that it pays to engage.

In summary, by creating a working environment where everyone feels welcome to put their ideas forward and inviting employees to be an integral part of the creative process, you’ll build a corporate culture in which people feel safe, valued and in a place they want to be. It’s fair to say people will always work harder for you and be more passionate and creative if they love what they do.

If you’d like to find out more about promoting a workplace culture that inspires creativity, get in touch with Steve at

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