How to Manage More Creatively

By Stephen Manallack

It is said that creativity and management are a great team. Yet, so many in senior management positions say, “I just can’t be creative.” Here are some tips to help you become more creative:

Re-build an open mind: When we were kids everything was new and we had an open way of looking at things. It’s worth trying to get this attitude back now that you are in management.

Don’t censor yourself: One of my colleagues often says, “I know this is a dumb question, but…” and then he asks the very question that was on everyone’s mind. We often don’t ask these “dumb” questions because we censor ourselves. Just because you are in a management role, this does not mean you know everything. Importantly, you are not expected to know everything, so you’ll lead better by being the first to say, “I don’t know.”

Move on from mistakes: I once watched a creative team of art director and copywriter working on an advertising campaign. Some of their words and ideas were clearly ridiculous. As they talked, one or the other would come up with an awful line or a weak joke. But they just moved on. They did not keep reminding each other of their failed efforts. They did not fear mistakes; nor should you.

Keep active, be involved: Creativity needs feeding, and the best food is the wonderful diversity of human life. If all you do is work, you will become dull. To keep your creative energies flowing, get out of your chair. See a movie. If you must watch TV, watch something you would normally reject. You don’t have to sit glued to the business news or current affairs. Buy a different magazine. Don’t keep closing more and more doors on the outside world: start to smash some of them open. That’s a big step towards increasing your level of creativity.

Leave things alone: Sometimes you need to get up from your desk, walk away, and give a thorny problem a rest for a while. “Let’s sleep on that” can be good advice.

Act on the idea: Once creativity arises, you have to put it to work. Pass it on, write it down, share your idea with friends or colleagues, or take any other action that commits the creativity to memory. One of the big differences between creative management and the rest is having the courage to put your ideas into action.

To get ahead in management today, you need more than technical or professional skills. You need to be more than a well-read lawyer or accountant, more than an MBA, and more than a marketing expert – you also need creative communication: the ability to get your message across.

Stephen Manallack has more than 20 years experience as a freelance communication consultant and is a professional speaker and author of “You Can Communicate; PR Secrets for Personal Success,” Pearson Education, 2002. He can be contacted in Australia at 613 9827 9368 or by email at sm@labyrinth.net.au.

[From Connection MagazineMay 2003]

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