Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent or reflect Mentor Works Ltd.
Why is it important to create a working environment that supports creativity and innovation?
For large organizations that are on the leading edge of technology and creating new products this seems like an obvious and important question to consider. However, all growth requires new thoughts, new ideas, new methods and new conversations, all of which require creativity.
Creativity is a process; it takes time and needs to be cultivated. So, then, this question becomes important for all organizations – big and small, profit and non-profit, product-based or service-based.
How Can Organizations Cultivate a Creative Environment?
Cultivating creativity begins with a working environment that allows people to feel safe.
It takes courage to share our creativity! Its where our non-logical thinking and expressing comes in. We get to share what we are feeling, follow our nudges and share what may sound silly, weird, crazy and possibly brilliant.
When we share ideas openly, without fear of judgement, we can unlock greater potential in ourselves and in others. What idea will spark the next best idea? The creative solution? Or perhaps the more compassionate way of dealing with an issue?
When we focus on creating a safe environment that builds trust, more sharing and creativity will be expressed.
How Can Organizations Support Creativity-Building Trust?
I believe that in order to build trust, we must be trusting. This is a fundamental role of senior leadership.
Trusting is a vulnerable act, and can even be risky. There is a common belief that trust must first be earned but, if everyone is waiting for trust to be earned, then who is creating a safe enough space for that to manifest? Doesn’t someone have to first take the risk and be trusting? When we continually behave in a way that aligns with us trusting others, then others begin to truly trust us in return.
What are we waiting for? Why are we holding out giving trust yet expecting people to be creative and innovative (which essentially means we expect them to trust us)?
We can begin this practice of trusting first by asking ourselves, when assessing a difficult or even not so difficult situation, “If I was trusting first, what would I do, how would I react?” This brings us face to face with our fears. When we pause and ask ourselves these questions we begin to hear many reasons why trusting in this situation would be dangerous and foolish.
More by Annyse Balkwill: Effective Communication Starts with Listening and Connecting
These precise excuses all become areas for leaders to evaluate. Are they true or are they simply a fear that has been subconsciously created and reinforced by habit?
What Does Trust Look Like within Organizations?
Let’s think about all the small acts that, over time, build trust. Where can we give up some control?
A great place to start is during meetings. We often go into a meeting with our personal agenda in mind and begin convincing people about the best way to do something.
Why do we do this?
I suspect it’s because we believe it’s effective; we try to figure everything out ourselves so that we are smart enough, we are worthy of our job and we are indispensable.
What if we went into a meeting and simply said the topic is ‘X’ and this is why I feel it is important. Then turn to the room and say, what do you feel are the most important things we need to discuss in order to address this? What if the room had the opportunity to openly discuss what they thought was important with no judgement? How many more people would engage?
Creativity Requires Trusting Leaders
Leadership roles call us to step up, to take the risk first, and to lead by example. When we are first trusting, over time we create an avalanche of trust and build a strong foundation for our organization.
This takes courage and a deep trust in ourselves, but is abundantly worth the effort when applied at the organizational level.
Annyse Balkwill, PEng consults with organizations through her business called The LuminUS Group, on meaningful cultural transformation and facilitates creative sessions designed for powerful idea generation and information sharing. She also speaks, coaches and offers workshops about leadership in a way that is accessible and has great impact for all regardless of their position within the company.
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