I was fascinated watching my seven year old grandson paint a picture using watercolours that had been bought for the holidays. He had decided to paint a yacht – a majestic vessel that was cutting through the choppy sea. He chose colours for every part of the boat, maybe colours that I wouldn’t have chosen personally, but the final product nevertheless looked great. It ended up being a beautiful painting and a great expression of his creativity.
When my nine year old granddaughter saw what he had accomplished, she also wanted to be involved and started being creative in different ways. She asked me to print a crossword puzzle so the she could be using her brain and be part of the action as well.
It struck me that there are a couple of learning points for leadership as managers as we watch how children behave:
- Don’t be prescriptive – let employees come up with ideas and give opportunity for the potential implementation of the ideas. Employee solutions are usually quite acceptable and they engender a spirit of ownership and pride.
- Don’t interfere – telling someone what to do or how to do it confuses creativity. Rather ask questions – how do you think that could be done? How are you going to solve this issue?
- Provide appropriate resources – employees need the right tools and resources to get the job done well. Inadequate, unreliable and inefficient resources frustrate employees.
- Create the right environment – a safe environment where creativity is encouraged stimulates more of what you are hoping gets done. We employee people to think and express their creativity.
- Celebrate accomplishment and achievement – when employees use their creativity to great effect and a positive result is achieved, celebrate the same and acknowledge employees.
- Facilitate engagement – when employees are fully engaged, they encourage others to be engaged too.
Leaders should facilitate creativity and the use of employees’ strengths within the workplace. When employees are set free in a safe and empowering environment, their potential can blossom and their respective contributions can grow.