Have you benched creativity?

Have you ever witnessed a leader lose it?  I did this week.  It wasn't pretty and it put the entire team in a very uncomfortable situation, the loss of self control and screaming will be remembered for decades.

Why the blow up?

The system wasn't working.  It's formulated.  It's planned.  It's step by step.  And yet it wasn't working.  In fact, the system is causing the entire team to lose.  The blow up results from loss of control.  For some leaders, when results don't come from the system they assume a team member is failing or hijacking the system.  Rarely do we have hijackers on our team.  But the team member who presses back against the system will be seen, and treated, as a possible threat.  This is when a blow up occurs.

When the system isn't working creativity is required.

Creativity is an important team member.  Creativity could change the current momentum of your team.  If you put creativity on the bench you subject your team to a waiting game, hoping someone else will come up with a solution.  Or, a leader lives by a stronger conviction about the system than believing in their team members, creating a culture of mistrust and doubt.  Systematic leaders are not poison until they bench their creativity and the creativity of their team.  They leave no room for suggestions, feedback, or alterations to the plan.  The ship will sink before they give up control of the wheel.

What can you do to keep creativity in your team culture?

1.  Create a plan - You're like, "What?"  But yes, planning is required.  The plan is where creativity thrives.  A plan should be married to core values and goals.  Don't let you plan be married to a system.

2.  Evaluate regularly - I like to ask this question to a team, "How are we doing?"  This question provides team members the opportunity to give input and an opportunity for a leader to see new things that could be future obstacles.

3.  Pick your battles - Too often we pick battles over results.  We should pick battles over culture.  Teams that get results have a culture of doing little things, or daily things, consistently right.

4.  Make it okay to poke the box - If your system is more valuable than your people, creativity will be on the bench.  Be a permission giver to your team to try new things.  I think about Seth Godin's equation in his wonderful book Poke the Box: If "poking the box is less than or equal to zero = poke.  Meaning, if the plan, model, or system isn't working make creative changes now because you have nothing to lose.

Today is Friday.  Friday is a great day to stop and reflect on your teams progress.  What do you see?  Have you asked your team if they see anything that's stalling the plan?  Are there conversations focused on creative solutions.  Do you give yourself permission to be a creative leader?  Next week can be different for you and your team, make sure creativity is not sitting on your teams bench.