How To Unleash Creativity & Innovation In Your Team

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How To Unleash Creativity & Innovation In Your Team

Lately I’ve been reminded about the power of diversity. It can come in so many forms. Right away my mind goes to cultural diversity but there are so many important aspects of diversity. Age, socio-economic backgrounds, gender etc.

Just read this great article on being an inclusive leader. It is a Harvard Business Review. Here’s the link:

Why Inclusive Leaders are Good for Organizations and How to Become One

We are living in a time, especially in the US, where polarization is rampant. One of the patterns that emerges in this environment is that it is tempting to feel more certain that our own way of seeing the world is the right way.

I love how this article highlights humility as an important trait in being an inclusive leader. Humility is not just the opposite to arrogance. I love how it’s put here humility “create(s) the space for others to contribute.”

How do we create environments where others are safe and encouraged to contribute? The strengths we get from diversity only can come when we clearly welcome ideas different from our own. As leaders we not only need to let go of control but also have the responsibility of unleashing the flow of ideas, creativity and innovation within our teams.

I think there is a great parallel in coaching. As a coach I don’t “have the answers”. I expect them to come from the person I’m coaching. There are a number of things that help unleash the coachee’s creativity and innovative ideas. Let’s list them from a coaching perspective but think of them applying to the teams and departments that we work in.

In no specific order … :

1. create a judgment-free zone where ideas, admissions and dreams are not mocked, shut-down or minimized;

2. start out curious, stay curious, and find joy in wondering about the ‘what if”s instead of the “why not”s;

3. separate out the ideas and brainstorming from the temptation to immediately list why it can’t work - just get those ideas flowing;

4. look for the unique strengths and characteristics in the other person that will support the ideas that are emerging;

5. listen “beneath the words” - hear where they are energized, what they are not saying, when encouragement would help; and

6. acknowledge feelings so they are not silently sabotaging the emergence of something new.

What else? What are the practices, the messages and the modeling that would support the strengths of divergent thought on your team?

How is the comfort zone of the familiar limiting you? Limiting your department? Your company?

Reach out if you’d like to share more ideas with me - I’d sure love to hear!


Marilyn Orr, CEC, PCC is a leadership and mentor coach with Capacity Building Coaching, and training partner on EQ-i 2.0 with MHS. She is also co-owner of new Texas Hill Country eco event center and wellness retreat, The Cedars Ranch.

Marilyn is running a 2-day training class in October for professionals wishing to become certified in administering the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 tool. The certification program is being held October 1st & 2nd in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Register Today!

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