October 29


How Leaders Can Influence Team Creativity

By Sara Canaday

October 29, 2019

business leaders, career, career success, communication skills, future leaders, leadership, leadership behaviors, leadership characteristics, leadership development, leadership qualities, leadership skills, leadership traits, strategic leadership

While speed and efficiency are necessary leadership traits in our always-on, do-more world, there’s also a point of diminishing returns. If we let agendas and clocks dictate all of our meetings, we could be undermining our own efforts to encourage meaningful collaboration and innovative thinking.

Consider the unfortunate impact.

Many people are reluctant to speak up and contribute something that disrupts the cadence of a meeting. They feel compelled to stay on task. And, they don’t want to be “that person” who goes off on a tangent and takes the whole team down the rabbit hole.

“Open forums” typically occur at the end of a meeting when there’s very little time left. Chances are, participants are restless and already making the mental leap to their next tasks for the day. It’s tough inviting people to share fresh, out-of-the-box strategies when everyone in the room is packing up.

The result? Great ideas go unheard. Conversations that could lead to breakout concepts are stifled and thwarted. And brainstorming gets truncated by the buzz from an Apple Watch signaling “time’s up!”

As a leader, you can selectively emphasize creativity over efficiency to get the most out of your team. The next time you plan a meeting, limit the topics on the agenda so you’re not compelled to race through every item. Try putting the open forum time at the beginning of your meeting when attention levels are still strong. And set the example by tossing out some innovative thoughts for reaction before you dive into the functional agenda items.

No doubt about it, efficiency is still critical. But, sometimes, discovery and dialogue need to take the lead as an investment for long-term success. When you provide the space for conversations to flow and ideas to percolate, you’ll give your team the best possible chance to develop some game-changing and synergistic ideas.

How do you influence your team to balance a bias for action with a bias for thought?

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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