5 Habits Inspiring Leaders Use To Unleash Their Team's Creativity Every Day

woman writing at desk

Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Anouare Abdou at Hive
Anouare Abdou at Hive
If you understand the value of creativity in your workplace, your team is lucky to have you. But you perhaps also realize that you can’t just prompt creativity on demand. It’s elusive, especially when deliverables are piling up and the pressure to meet business targets is on.
“As a tech leader, I have come to discover that creativity is a learned skill like any other, and as a team leader, I’m required to create an environment where this skill can be honed, nurtured, tested, and rewarded,” says Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer at TRGDatacenters.
So how do you go about honing, nurturing, and rewarding creativity in your workplace team? Here are a few habits that will turn the elusiveness of boosting creativity into a digestible, actionable process.

1. Encourage and reward inquisitiveness.

“One actionable way of unleashing your team’s creativity is cultivating and rewarding a culture of inquisitiveness in your team,” adds McGee.
“Encourage your team to consistently ask quality questions about projects, budgets, competition, business decisions, and business assumptions. A culture of curiosity and inquisitiveness will result in innovation, new ideas, better solutions, and greater, more effective cooperation amongst team members.”

2. Mix up collaboration and solo work.

Scott Hitchins, Chief Marketing Officer at Interact Software and member of the Forbes Communication Council, says that organizations need to strike a balance between collaboration and solitude, especially in light of the past two years where we’ve blurred the lines between home and office and group and solo work.
According to him, this tends to be an “always-on” culture where we’re pulled into email chains, team meetings, and other collaborative events constantly. “Probably because we’ve all been more dispersed physically, we have collaborated more virtually at the expense of spending time on our own thinking and creatively brainstorming, “he says.
“There is huge value in collaboration and teamwork, but the problem with it is that it tends to reward the loudest voices in the room. Leaders can encourage colleagues to have focus time set aside regularly so they can engage with flow states or work, or to have time set aside for creative conceptualization.”
He recommends giving your team a high-level task to think about such as, “What should our company mission be?” or “Where is the market going?” but without placing any limits or expectations around the answers.

3. Flex creative muscles even when not related to work.

“Don’t treat creativity as a character trait, but as a skill to be worked on in the same way as communication or personal organization, “adds Hitchins.
“People get caught in a trap of thinking they’re either a ‘creative person’ or they’re not, but everyone can be creative. You only get better through practice so look to the habits of people who regularly create. “
And when you make assumptions about certain team members and decide that they’re just not creative from the get-go, you miss out on the opportunity to unleash their unique creative potential. Instead, focus on learning what are some of the creative pursuits of different people, even if they are unrelated to work, and empower them to develop their creativity in that way.
“Pick something: writing, drawing, knitting —even if it’s unrelated to work it could still be a powerful way to give every person a feeling that they can create and then bring that over into their work life.”

4. Hire people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

“The best, most innovative ideas never come from one person – they come from a cognitively diverse group,” says Marie Unger, CEO of Emergenetics® International and a business consultant who has helped thousands of professionals create positive, productive workplace cultures.
“Diversity of thought drives innovation, so it’s important that companies and teams hire and engage people with different perspectives, backgrounds and points of view.”
“If you find that your employees are very similar, invite someone from outside of your team to join a brainstorming session to introduce new ideas,” she adds.
Diversity is great, but you also want everyone to feel safe contributing to creative discussions, so an inclusive mindset is key too. “To promote creativity, have an inclusive mindset. When you create an environment where each team member is self-aware and appreciates their colleagues who think and behave differently, your employees will feel more motivated to contribute and are more likely to share ideas that break from the status quo.”

5. Avoid surprise and last-minute brainstorms.

According to Unger, you should avoid surprising your team with brainstorming meetings. “While some employees may enjoy it, others will want to do research, get inspiration from colleagues or think independently before offering ideas. By giving your team advanced notice that you will be asking for their insights, staff members have an opportunity to bring their best thinking to the discussion.”
This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for inspiring creativity at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!