Capitalizing on Creative Management

One of the most difficult things for any business manager who must lead a team is figuring out how to promote and encourage creativity. In the course of project development and execution, projects usually involve many team members who must work at their individual tasks, usually under strict deadline. But as an effective business manager who wants to see exciting ideas emerge and push the growth of the company, sometimes they do not want to see everyone on their team following the rank and file and pushing through rote tasks toward their next paycheck. The business manager wants to lead with confidence and charisma and where possible provide a place for their team members whereby growth can take place.

A business manager is in a leadership position, and the leadership style that a business manager adopts by far has the strongest impact on the performance of the team. Dictatorial and autocratic leadership styles can get the job done, but they do little for building trust and confidence in one's team members, and they are especially great for hindering creativity. The greatest leadership tool that a business manager possesses for this kind of work is charisma. People respond to charismatic leaders because they are inspiring and persuasive, and people feel that by virtue of charisma alone a certain level of trust can be placed in that leader. This trust is essential for promoting creativity in a group, because in seeking out creative ideas the business manager is asking their team to take risks. If a team member feels that their ideas are not taken seriously or that the business manager shows no appreciation for the ideas produced, the team member will have little incentive to work creatively since they will feel that the work is not valued.

John Kilbane, Business Manager, LIUNA 310

Besides providing a mentoring relationship, a business manager who leads a team must often be in the position to critique work performance and ideas. Work performance is often the easiest thing to critique since a company usually has a very strict set of criteria for evaluating performance, and the individual being evaluated has usually been hired based on their ability to perform those duties. Critiquing ideas, on the other hand, requires a defter hand and a subtler approach the ability to come up with new ideas is usually not in someone's job description. It is natural for people to respond well to praise and equally natural for people not to appreciate negative criticism. Therefore, it is important to know how to mesh the two approaches so that team member feel that the critique is leading them to a better approach.

Certain leadership styles can help the business manager adopt to this quirk of human psychology. For instance, more democratic styles of leadership that involve lots of group feedback can be used to the business manager's advantage, where the group efforts can be used to field and critique ideas. This makes negative criticism feel less personal, and takes the focus off the business manager and allows them to remain in the charismatic, supportive position. Whatever the leadership approach that a business manager adopts, they should know that fostering creativity takes a level of flexibility and nimbleness that more authoritative leadership approaches hinder.

Lisa Drew writes for several education blogs and suggests researching schools that have high executive MBA rankings and offer degrees.