Nielsen: Creative Leadership

As we discussed last week, IBM recently released an extensive study entitled Capitalizing on Complexity.  The study, conclusions and recommendation are based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,500 CEOs worldwide.

Not surprisingly, one of the major findings is that CEOs of ‘standout organizations’ are capitalizing on complexity by focusing on “Embodying Creative Leadership.” 

“Asked to prioritize the three most important leadership qualities in the new economic environment, creativity was the one selected more than any other choice.  CEOs now realize that creativity trumps other leadership characteristics. Creative leaders are comfortable with ambiguity and experimentation.  To connect with and inspire a new generation, they lead and interact in entirely new ways.”

Specific findings regarding ‘standout CEOs and their organizations’ include the following:

  • Expressed little fear regarding re-examining their own creations or proven strategic approaches.
  • The new mandate is immediacy – no longer sufficient to think, manage or delegate based on traditional time horizons or strategic planning cycles.
  • Act despite uncertainty – respond swiftly with new ideas to address deep changes affecting the organization – focus on quick decisions even when facing uncertainty.
  • Test, tweak and redesign core activities continually.
  • Not sufficient to be prepared personally.  Must equip entire organization to be a catalyst for creativity. For most leadership teams, this requires an entirely new set of capabilities.
  • Seed creativity across the organization rather than set apart “creative types” in siloed departments like product design.
  • Avoid the old command and control style of leadership.
  • Communicate differently – in order to build, support and effectively leverage creative leadership.


The obvious question is… are you leading creatively?  Are the leaders of your team and the leaders throughout your organization leading creatively?  The study suggests you ask yourself and your leadership team the following very important questions:

  • How will you develop the critical capabilities to enhance creativity among your leadership team?
  • In what ways can you explore, reward and integrate diverse and unconventional points of view?
  • What is your approach to challenge every element of your business model to get the most from untapped opportunities?
  • How will you leverage new communication styles, technologies and tools, both to lead a new generation of talent and encourage breakthrough thinking?


Great questions … and food for thought and action regarding the realities of today … and tomorrow!

Stay turned for Reinventing Customer Relationships next week.  In the meantime, the study is available at no cost at    

Copyright © 2011 by Dan Nielsen,

Founder, National Institute for Healthcare Leadership

Cell 214-695-1292

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