Creativity is increasingly becoming a differentiating factor for successful organizations. To lead a great creative team you need to nurture the right culture.
All companies want and need to foster creativity within their organization, but this does not happen in isolation. Work environment and culture are strong influences on the performance of a creative team. For a climate in which creativity can develop, experience indicates four main areas on which to focus.
Creatives rarely are driven by money or recognition as their primary motivation.Money and recognition is a potent motivator for creatives, albeit a bit further down the list. Often their primary motivations are intrinsic, and requires two major factors. One is challenge — they must be challenged to move out of their habitual behaviour patterns and develop their potential, and this can be done by allowing individuals to use their potential to work towards the company’s strategic goals. Another is the potential for growth and learning.
Once people are motivated, they need to be empowered, and for this they require freedom, time, and support. They must be free from narrow management restrictions and job descriptions, if they are to have the authority to meet the challenges they are given. Similarly, tight time constraints, where every minute is allocated to a specific task, prevent creativity from developing — there must be a proportion of unallocated time. Then, when people use their creativity and reach the limit of what they can do on their own, there must be input, support, and resources from the creative director.
Together with motivation and empowerment, there needs to be dynamism — a self-perpetuating drive towards success. This requires an environment charged with energy, buzz and enthusiasm, and this atmosphere emanates from the team leaders and prima donnas in the group. However, dynamism also needs conflict — not the negative and personal kind, but the positive kind, which involves the collision of ideas, not personalities. A major component of this type of conflict will always be open and healthy debate.
Openness and Acceptance
The fourth main element of a creative experience is a culture of openness, and this means one in which people feel free to experiment, and put their creative ideas into action to see what works and what doesn’t. Along with this, of course, goes the freedom to take risks, and if there is an overall climate in which risk-taking is encouraged, fear of risk will be reduced for the individual. All this must be managed in an atmosphere of trust — without trust, neither experimentation nor risk-taking will be possible, and there will be no freedom to put forward creative ideas.
These four areas motivation, empowerment, energy, and openness; are the main domains in which a creative climate can flourish. However, for this to work, there must be ground rules, so that everyone feels safe enough to put forward ideas. Typical ground rules include avoiding negative reactions to others’ suggestions, contributing to your full potential rather than being a passenger, and assuming that others’ intentions towards you are positive. As long as the ground rules are respected, it will be possible for creativity to flow.