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Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Develop Creative Leadership in Your Business

IBM has just released its 2010 Global CEO Study, based on face-to-face interviews conducted with over 1,500 CEOs spanning 60 countries and 33 industries.

Here are some key points from the study:
  • Even if the recession is over, 79% CEOs expect the business environment to become even more complex in coming years.
  • More than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage this escalating complexity.
  • Western CEOs anticipate economic power to rapidly shift to developing markets, and foresee heavier regulation ahead.
  • A majority of CEOs cite creativity as the most important leadership quality required to cope with growing complexity.Creativity in this context is about creative leadership — i.e., the ability to shed long-held beliefs and come up with original and at times radical concepts and execution. And this requires bold, breakthrough thinking. We believe, however, that this isn't about having a lone creative leader at the top but rather about creating a "field" of creative leadership, by igniting the collective creativity of the organisation from the bottom up. In essence, creative leaders excel at creating creative leaders. 
The report identifies a group of standout organisations which delivered solid business results even during the recent downturn. Their revenue growth was six times higher than the rest of the sample and they plan to get 20% of revenues from new sources in the near future.

How do these firms succeed? These top performers focus on developing creative leaders across their organisations, deepening partnerships with employees and customers and achieving operational agility. Creative leaders in these firms are more prepared and willing to make deeper business model changes to realise their strategies. To win, they take more calculated risks and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it is successful and are committed to ongoing experimentation with disruptive business solutions.

Here are some questions we believe you should address if you wish to develop creative leaders who can help your organisation cope with increasing complexity:
  • What cultural, political, organisational and technological barriers should your organisation overcome if it has to develop a cadre of creative leaders?
  • What structures, reward systems, processes, metrics and goals do you have in place to support creative leaders?
  • How do you encourage risk taking and learning from failure? How do you measure it?
  • Do you simply adopt best practices learned from industry leaders or do you shape "next practices" that will make your organisation the leader in the future?
  • How effective are you in partnering with customers, suppliers, employees and even your competition to improvise "good enough" solutions?


The Physiology Of Leadership

In his book, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. author Daniel Coyle looks at three basic elements of the development of talent: "ignition," which basically means motivation, "deep practice" and "master coaching." 

Each is valuable on its own, but their convergence is the key to developing skill. For each he offers practical real-life examples. For example, for deep practice, he writes about how Brazil emerged as a world hotbed for football even though until the 1950s it was nowhere on the world football map. He credits deep practice as developed by Brazilian youth when they indulged in a sport called "futsal"--football in a room, played with a ball half the size but twice the weight of an ordinary soccer ball. Futsal gave Brazilians deep practice and increased myelin effects to directly strengthen their skills on the football field.

Deep practice is a conscious activity, involving a cycle of distinct actions. Ignition is a hot, mysterious burst of passion, an awakening, and it is indispensible for firing up a person's motivation. Master coaching means guidance and feedback from a disciplined, committed coach. The development of great skill relies on the help of teachers who have the ability to nurture talent.

This book shows exactly how you can develop the skills of an expert.