SA Leadership Podcast Episode #132

How Great Leaders Think


Harness Creative Thinking

The joy is in creating, not maintaining – Vince Lombardi

Creativity is pure gold, no matter what you do for a living. Annette Moser-Wellman author of The Five Faces of Genius wrote, “The most valuable resource you bring to your work and to your firm is creativity. More than what you get done, more than the role you play, more than your title, more than you output – it is your ideas that matter.” Few people seem to possess this skill.

If you are not as creative as you would like to be, you can change the way that you are thinking. Creative thinking is not necessarily original thinking. Original thinking can be over played. Creative thinking can be a composite of thoughts gathered along the road of life. Let me give you some characteristics of creative thinkers.

Creative Thinking Values Ideas

Author Annette Wellman suggests that “Highly creative people are dedicated to ideas. They do not rely on their talent alone, they rely on their discipline. Creativity is about having ideas – lots of them. You will only have these ideas when you value ideas.

Creative Thinkers Explore Options

I have yet to meet a creative thinker who did not love options. Albert Einstein stated once that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The key is not finding just an answer, but the best answer. Creative thinkers design back-up plans and offer them as alternatives. They enjoy a freedom that others do not possess. These people will lead and influence other people.

Creative Leaders Embrace Ambiguity

Writer H. L. Mencken suggests that it is “…the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man is always dull.” Creative people do not feel the need to stamp out uncertainty. They see all kinds of inconsistencies and gaps in life and they often take delight in exploring those gaps – or using their imagination to fill them.

Creative Thinkers Celebrate The Offbeat

Creativity by definition often explores paths that do not exist. A worn path can become boring to a creative thinker. Once President of Yale University, Kingman Brewster stated, “There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. SO we must suffer the screwball gladly.” You will need to tolerate some oddness.

Creative Thinkers Connect The Unconnected

Because creativity utilizes the ideas of others, there is great value in being able to connect one idea to another. Graphic Arts designer Tim Hansen suggests, creativity is especially expressed in the ability to make connections, to make associations, to turn things around and express them in a new way. It is somewhat like taking a trip in your car. You know the destination, but it is not until you begin the journey that you actually experience things that were only in your mind. Creative works something like this:


Creative Thinkers Do Not Fear Failure

Creativity demands the ability to be unafraid of failure because creativity equals failure. Charles Frankl suggests that anxiety is the essential condition of intellectual and artistic creation. Sometimes you are going to look very odd to others. You have to be willing to climb out on the limb – even if it breaks.

If you desire to have a team that is a greenhouse of innovations, I want to leave you with six insights.

  • Encourage Creativity – Give permission to dream
  • Place high Value on Trust Among Team Members – Creativity always risks failure. Creative people need an environment of TRUST
  • Embrace Those Who Are Creative – Weed out the dullards and nurture the nuts (Tom Peters)
  • Focuses on Innovation, Not Just Invention – Creativity is the logical combination of 2+ existing elements that result in a new concept
  • Be Willing To Go Outside The Lines – All human development must be outside the lines, otherwise we never have anything new (Charles Kettering)
  • Appreciate The Power of A Dream – Martin Luther King’s famous line, “I have a dream…”


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Music: “Gratitude Mood” by David Arivett. You can learn more about his music by clicking on his name. THANKS DAVID!


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