Three Types of Leadership Creativity

There are many forms of creativity – some creative ideas are abstract ideas that come from seemingly nowhere; other creative ideas are incremental improvements or a new way to frame a problem or an existing process.

Most leaders excel at one or two types of creativity – this is driven by both personality, and experience. The three general types of creative leaders are:

  • Visionaries. These leaders are creative in the way we often think of when we hear that word – they have new ideas that seem to come from nowhere. They see “houses on hills” where no one knew a hill even existed, and can picture a future that can mobilize an entire organization. These leaders often provide the spark of creativity that begins new initiatives and directions.
  • Strategists. These leaders express their creativity by translating visions into plans that can then be implemented. Relying on organizational models and frameworks, these people create by taking a “big idea” and translate it into a strategy – with goals, objectives and timelines, and with creative ways to identify and mobilize teams and resources. Their form of creativity set the stage for the third type of creative leader – the executer.
  • Executers. These leaders know how to creatively confront the bureaucracy or other barriers to get the day-to-day operational or project work done in a new way. Instead of thinking “outside the box,” these leaders grow the box – applying change management models and techniques that move projects forward and solve everyday problems.

To maximize the power of these forms of creativity, they must all be cultivated, promoted and rewarded. This can be done through leadership development, training, and other professional development approaches.  Creativity is the act of creating – and building leaders that can create well should be a goal for all organizations.