6 ways how leaders slaughter imagination and kill creativity in business

Creativity and creative problem solving are 21st century leadership skills.

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Creativity and creative problem solving are 21st century leadership skills. In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, using collective imagination to develop solutions is more needed than ever. The risk of embracing imaginative responses is heightened as business will miss out on breakthrough ideas that can become innovations if the bar isn’t raised. Research has supported that to create sustainable innovation, unleashing creative potential will be the determining factor.

Creativity is the modern-day learner’s force. It drives innovation, whether it be products, services when harnessed well. Realistically not all leaders drive their creativity even though we all have it. The key for leaders is to remember that even if they are not the most creative in the organization, they should serve as a “guide” for imagination. Nurture, support and challenge creative thinking within the business, build a team with diverse range and skills to complement each other to devise the best solution.

Research tells us that creative leaderships helps improve the economic viability of a company, increase workplace satisfaction and support team success. A leader who has mastered the art of creative problem solving can lead a company through any unforeseen challenges the future holds and create extraordinary results.

IBM conducted a survey of 1,500 chief executives across 33 industries and 60 countries around the world and determined that creativity was the most sought-after traits. Creative leadership allowed leaders to inspire people to generate and develop original and creative ideas to be at the forefront of its industry.

Let’s look at 6 creativity killers.


For years people have been talking about expanding the box. l say eliminate the box as if it did not exist at all. You want to take away opportunity for discussion, debate and brainstorming by playing it safe, then watch how you slowly slaughter the souls of your people. When people stop providing ideas, organizations suffer. Innovation becomes standstill.

Discourage any creativity by sticking to the same structure, same format, same rules and ignore any new idea. Hire like-minded individuals to foster agreement rather than creating a space for quality ideas and originality. Imagination will only flourish with freedom.


If you want to strip people of any creativity, passion or drive, micromanage them. Control every aspect of a project, over involve yourself in projects and ensure all sign off for decisions is through you. Micromanagement will kill morale and imagination.

We want environments that foster imaginative thinkers, to find new ways to find solutions to problems and nourish both themselves and the business. Be the leader that embodies the qualities that you want your team to act on.


Research supports that diverse groups are more creative. Expanding the boundaries by accessing wisdom from other industry disruptors, fosters new relationships, expanding unfamiliar zones and increases the likelihood that this idea will translate into a reality.


When bringing groups together with intention of listening to feedback, kill the moment by tapping into titles and seniority. Dismantle the notion that all are equal and design different rules for hierarchical positions. The notion that contribution is nurtured will foster a space of trust, honesty and safety for all involved.


In 2015, the average human being attention span was 8 seconds. The average attention span of a goldfish, 9 seconds. Creativity requires space and when we isolate, remove any movement we inhibit the free-flowing insights. When you limit yourself to new experiences, environments or spaces, you remove the potential for creativity to foster the ability to turn insights into products or services. Research has supported that meditation or mindfulness increases focus, attention span and creativity. Meditation encourages possibility for coming up with the greatest number of possible solutions to a problem. Invest in low intensity activities, taking a walk to free your mind and create.

Nothing is sure to shut down the engine of innovation faster than leaders who eliminate opportunities for creativity to be nurtured than developing a mindset that creativity is another buzz word or another item on their checklist.


If a challenge arises, let’s not disown the problems. Let’s flip the switch and collectively take ownership. No one should sit alone. Build a team that can experiment and take risks. When you instill a belief that that there is always a choice and solution, the lens we look through provides a very different picture. Creating an environment where all contribute to change, is the platform for people going home satisfied. Ignite the collective to have impactful conversations, develop solutions and create conditions conducive for co-creation to allow people and business to flourish.

As first published in

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