Have you been told that you don’t take enough risks when coming up with new ideas? Or you need to look beyond the day to day and find new and innovative ways to take the team/business forward? Or you need to do more on building and leading new strategies?
Additionally, as a leader, have you wondered why only a few individuals will take the initiative or are capable of looking outside the box for solutions?
If you’re being asked to be more creative and you don’t feel that you can, it could be that you don’t feel psychologically safe enough to do so. If you don’t feel that it’s safe to come up with and try out new ideas, then your creative abilities will be suppressed.
Leaders I’ve worked with on this have felt insecure in a number of ways. It can be because of historical circumstances they’ve found themselves in eg. when they’ve taken risks previously, they’ve ended up making mistakes or even losing their job. Or it can be that the organisation doesn’t really encourage creativity. Either way, if you’re asking people to be creative, you need to ensure that they feel safe enough to do so.
Individuals are more likely to be creative and look for innovative solutions when it is the norm in that organisation and they’re encouraged to do so. However, the norm in some organisation is deemed too risky, where people could be judged negatively, see a drop in status, threat to promotion or even their job.
Psychological safety, where an “employee’s sense of being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status or career”, enables effective brainstorming, idea sharing and creativity at its best.
Ask the individuals in your team what they need to feel psychologically safe. Many of the answers will be around honesty, trust, belonging, openness, and the ability to agree/disagree without it becoming a personal issue. Individuals need to feel they are not being threatened (see Motivational needs), but rewarded for their positive interactions and, more importantly, not punished for unsuccessful creativity.
A calm, relaxed and secure mind has been proven to be more successful at generating and exploring multiple possibilities to issues, discover new insights and achieve creative ways of putting solutions in to practice. An organisation that encourages this will also have employees who have quality relationships with their colleagues and a greater feeling of job satisfaction.
So next time you are asked (or you ask one of your team) to be more creative and recommend new and potentially more risky solutions, then it’s worth ensuring an environment of psychological safety in which to excel.
If you would like to know more about how Executive Coaching can help your leadership skills and encourage creativity in your team, then please contact us.