Trainers and Consultants
this article to others
can be a more creative professional, CEO and manager
is said that creativity, expertise and leadership are a great team.
Yet, working in a creative industry, I have heard so many in senior
management positions say; "I just can't be creative".
My view is that creativity can be learned, it is not a gift
from the gods (for most of us). The best place to learn is from the
creative departments of advertising agencies. I've employed or
contracted many creative teams and have learned many leadership
lessons from "the tricks of the creative professionals". For
the successful professional, manager or Chief Executive, being
creative represents both their greatest opportunity and hardest
challenge. Many need to change their preconditioned thinking about
For a start, I know for certain that becoming creative is not
necessarily about become another Einstein or Picasso. Many quite
average and ordinary people have found their creative side. If you
lock into your own creative juices, you will become a better leader.
You'll also be more fun, more interesting, happier and more of a
contributor. Overall, that makes you a better communicator.
can be as simple as new ways for old situations. For example, at home,
your creativity might produce a new way for the family to have fun
together, or a new approach for the sporting club. On the board or
with management, you might get new energy by changing meeting formats,
or seeking to solve old problems in new ways.
are some quick creativity tips from my observation of the professional
an open mind
. When we were kids
everything was new and we had an open way of looking at things. It's
worth trying to get this back now that you are in leadership. As you
become more open and more creative, your leadership persona will
of my colleagues would be the one to say "I know this is a dumb
question, but..." and then he'd ask the very question that was on
everyone's mind. We don't ask these dumb questions because our mind
acts as a censor. It says "you should know" or "they
will laugh at you". Just because you are in a leadership role,
this does not mean you know everything. Importantly, you are not
expected to know everything, so you'll lead better by being the first
to say; "I don't know".
on from mistakes.
I watched a creative team of
art director and copywriter working on an advertising campaign. Some
of their words or ideas were clearly ridiculous. As they talked, one
or the other would come up with a lousy line or a weak joke.
do the best advisors and executives use communication to advance their
Here are ten secrets applied from the top communicators I have seen:
. Good leaders
always have a ready statement of where the organisation is now, where
it is going and how it will get there. They can deliver this message
perceptions, not reality
. They know that what people
think of you holds the key to your future. You can do this by liking
people more, listening to others asking lots of questions.
. Good leaders can sum up
themselves and their company in a few sentences.
Liking their organization, they know their organization well.
Can you do that?
. Good communicators can list
their organization's strengths and capabilities, as if it is a
recorded message. This includes what you've done and where you are
to the simple
. Successful people sum up
complex things in simple language. The more technical their knowledge, the simpler their
the 5W's. The best executives answer the 5W's in the
first sentences of a discussion or meeting - Who, What, Where, When
. Good senior communicators
are down to earth and practical.
. The best business
communicators are always asking questions.
They are interested and inquisitive, because they like people.
- a purpose. There
is rarely any small talk for the top chief executives.
They are not backward in making purposeful statements.
. Top executives can grab the
audience, then develop their message and close with impact.
just moved on. They did not keep reminding each other of the pathetic
effort. They did not fear mistakes; nor should you as a leader.
active, be involved.
Creativity needs feeding, and the
best food is the wonderful diversity of human life. If all you do is work
and attend board meetings, you will become dull. To keep your creative
energies growing, get out of the chair. See a movie. If you must watch TV,
watch something you would normally reject. You don't have to sit glued to
the business news or current affairs. Buy a different magazine. Don't keep
closing more and more doors on the outside world; start to smash some of
them open. That's a big step towards real leadership.
Sometimes you need to get up from
the boardroom table, walk away and not come back to the issue for a while.
"Let's sleep on that" can be good advice, and it takes a leader to
know when to say it.
on the idea.
Once creativity arises, you have
to put it to work. Pass it on, write it down, take the action, share the
idea with friends or colleagues or take any action that commits the
creativity to memory. One of the big differences between real leaders and
the rest is the courage to put ideas into action.
get ahead in leadership today, you need more than technical or professional
skills. You need to be more
than a well-read lawyer or accountant, more than an MBA, and more than a
management expert - you also need creative communication, the ability to get
the message across. Even in sports, the most successful sporting figures are
also good, highly trained, communicators. It is also vital for those who
want to get more out of community involvement. A good communication skills
course could give you a competitive edge, and it is never too late to start.
beauty about learning good communication is that you win in both ways -
you'll be more likely to be a leader and you will be happier. So, how long
since you chose a communication course? It's your move.
thing that could hold you back here is that many of us have created a
"mirage" in our minds about what creativity and successful
communication is. Because communication plays such a pivotal role in
successful leadership, it is important that directors see through these
mirages and move forward.
number one is that communication and creativity is for the stars.
"He or she is a born communicator", we tell ourselves. We, on the
other hand, (we tell ourselves) are not stars. This is negative and false.
Everyone can communicate. Everyone has ideas. Everyone can use communication
to improve inter-personal relationships, and many of your colleagues are not
looking for entertainment-style communication, but want a real and easily
understood transfer of information. Most of the people we admire as good
communicators have actually been through some form of training. If they have
learned the art of communication, why can't you?
number two is that communication is all about instant results. This
mirage says that since my own communication does not give me the power to
get what I want, it must have failed. In reality, all communication produces
results. Something will happen when we communicate. What is important is how
you communicate, how you behave, how positive are your thoughts for others
and so on. For directors, rather than impressing colleagues with your wit or
entertaining them with humor, the key is to get a complex message across in
simple language. Also remember that the greatest results from communication
are the "intangibles" such as friendship, respect, intimacy and
number three is that any new communication approach is better than the
old one. This becomes "creativity for its own sake". To move from
a failure to a success, according to this mirage, we need a totally new
communication approach. This view suggests out with the old, in with the
new. In this ruthless quest for success, we can erode friendships, reduce
trust and create an atmosphere of tension and competition. Improved
communication is a gradual process. Take one step at a time on the path to
number four is that to communicate well you must conform. This is the
"yes" man syndrome, and kills creativity. We know that
corporations where people are just clones do not go too far, and it is the
same at a personal level. Be yourself. Differences are exciting; they make
us strong as groups. From an individual perspective, these differences can
become their strongest rationale for choosing you as Chief Executive.
are living in a time that is uncertain yet creative. Leaders need to think
about the wonderful opportunities ahead. Knowledge is exploding. We can talk
to anybody, anywhere and anytime. Even corporations are looking for friends
and partners. Nothing is impossible. A sense of creativity will make this
century great. The human spirit can make it different. To develop as a
leader, get out of your seats. Talk to someone. Talk to employees you've
hardly even met. Talk to your family. Communicate. The future awaits: what
are you going to do?
Manallack is a Communication Consultant and Author, "You Can
Communicate" Pearson 2002, and has over 20 years experience as a
communication consultant in Australia. Phone 613 9827 9368 Email [email protected]
Stephen Manallack July 2001
Send this article to others
top of page
articles & website © Expert Magazine