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16 ways to be a creative and innovative leader


Here are 16 easy methods you can immediately implement to encourage creativity and innovation.


How often have you said or heard others say "I’m not creative"? First it might be useful to consider the difference between innovation and creativity.

We think this quote from Theodore Levitt sums it up:

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”


These 16 points are not intended to cover everything on the subject, they’re just to help you get started in thinking about it. They apply equally for self-leadership or leading others.


Leaders stretch their own imagination and the imagination of those around them to discover new ways of doing things.

Which brings to mind another quote, this one from Albert Einstein:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”


1. Start with your thinking

Do you believe that you are creative? If not, what could you possibly do to make your thinking more helpful? For example, what could you start to say to yourself about how you are developing your creative thinking skills?

2. Help your team or colleagues with their thinking

How do they act and what do they say that gives an indication of their belief about their creativity? Think about the things you could possibly do to help them to feel more confident about their skills in these areas.

3. Consider your organisational environment

Is it helpful or hindering to do creative thinking? Decide whether this is a ‘given’ that you can’t do anything about or if it is something you can influence in your area of work, your team or how you work.

4. Define some goals about being innovative and creative

When might there be opportunities for new and different thinking or when might there be opportunities to use or encourage creative thinking? Decide what you want to do and what you want to achieve.

  • If you'd like some "Top tips on goals" check out last week's article here.

5. Be creative every day

Build a habit of looking to innovate and be creative at every opportunity. Be proactive, rather than seeking opportunities create opportunities as this is being creative in itself. Then turn this creativity into innovation by acting on the ideas generated.

6. Inspire those around you to act in the same way

Displaying creativity yourself will impact on those around you. You will be acting as a role model and influencing the thinking of colleagues. This may cause them to think something along the lines of, “If Alison can do it, then I can as well.”

7. Mix with others who are creative

This can be extended out of your workplace by using the fantastic links and resources made available online. As a starter how about connecting with us on LinkedIn where the discussions will stimulate your thinking.

8. Use questions that engage the imagination

Rather than going with the first solution or tried and tested ways of doing things, ask yourself or others questions that will help to generate lots of ideas. These questions will usually contain the words ‘could’ and ‘possibly’. For example; “How could we possibly make more time to hit the deadlines on this project?”.

9. Challenge yourself

When using questions that are designed to help you, think of lots of options or ideas then set yourself or others a challenge. How many ideas can you come up with in response to the question in five or ten minutes?

10. Explore the ‘What ifs’

Work through ‘What if’ scenarios to generate lots of options to solve problems or achieve goals. For example; ‘What if we had an unlimited budget, what could we possibly achieve?’

11. Involve others in creative thinking sessions

Introduce your team or colleagues to creative thinking techniques. Talk about the importance of thinking possibilities before deciding on the definite actions to take to achieve goals or projects. Check out the Go MAD Thinking podcasts 'Thinking for Business Success', a number of which help you explore creative thinking techniques.

12. Dare to be different

Challenge others to develop their innovation and creativity skills. Introduce different ways to do things and different ways to come up with ideas. Use creative thinking techniques to get people thinking and challenge when you hear others say, “it’s always been done this way”.

13. Get groups together

Creativity and innovation doesn’t have to sit with the leaders in the organisation. People doing the job will have great ideas about new ways of doing things. By getting them together they will spark off ideas in each other.

14. Acknowledge when it happens

If you are encouraging others to be creative and to innovate then you need to recognise when this is happening. Look out for it on a daily basis.

15. Reinforce the habit

Having recognised when it is happening, offer feedback and praise so others will keep acting in this way.

16. Celebrate your success

When applying the Go M.A.D.® Results Framework and measuring the results we recommend that wins are celebrated. So, how could you possibly celebrate when you have helped yourself and others to think in new and different ways?



To take these ideas forward here are 3 things that you could choose to do:

  1. Identify situations where you can inspire creativity and innovation in others.
  2. Do some possibility thinking about how you could possibly encourage more creativity in those situations. Challenge yourself to generate 10, 20, 30 or more ideas.
  3. Take action from the ideas generated, decide what will you do and when. Ensure you plan in the time to make it happen. For more inspiration take a look at our book 'How to make a difference by transforming managers into leaders’.


The world is a constantly changing place and with technology advancing quicker than ever now it is becoming harder to stay relevant in the market place.

Contact us for a chat about how we could help to create light bulb moments for you and your team to deliver better results in the organisation.


Do you want to overcome your biggest hurdles, get your projects and initiatives back on track and get your teams focused - all in just 30 days? Check out our new online 30-Day DASH Programme!
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