IBM Creative Leadership Study, 2011- more creativity needed among leaders

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  • Creative leadership in action enables a wide range of product, process and business model innovations.
  • Innovation will often require leadership styles characterised by influence rather than power.
  • Managing the increasing complexity inherent in today’s environment requires leaders who will work to unlock, uncover and unleash the collective creative capabilities of their organisations.

Why are some organizations consistently good at innovating and/or adapting while others seem to be blindsided by change? Is it because of their disciplined innovation process or the knowledge and skills of their people? Or is it their determination to build a culture where challenging assumptions is not only encouraged, but expected? Our IBM Creative Leadership Study found that leaders who embrace the dynamic tension between creative disruption and operational efficiency can create new models of extraordinary value.

What, specifically, enables leading-edge organizations to capitalize on the inherent complexity in today’s environment and catalyze innovation within their business models, products and services? According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, the ability to embody creative leadership is among the most important attributes for capitalizing on complexity. And of the 700 CHROs throughout the world interviewed for the 2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer Study, 69 percent told us they are not effective in developing future leaders. What’s more, 78 percent of HR executives said they are not effective in fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Our IBM Creative Leadership Study found that to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, creative leaders avoid choosing between unacceptable alternatives. Instead, they use the power inherent in these dualities to invent new assumptions and create new models geared to an ever-changing world.

Creative leadership in action enables a wide range of product, process and business model innovations. Organizations will need to act upon three imperatives to accelerate the development of creative capital:

  • Uncover the key capabilities of the creative organization – Empower the organization’s ability to understand how the world behaves. Expose those individuals who see opportunities where others do not and map out what is found. Connect ideas and people in novel ways. Try many and various ideas. Inspire belief that action is possible. Maintain the discipline to get things done.
  • Unlock and catalyze the creative capabilities of leaders – Create high-impact, experiential learning tied to real business challenges. Develop inspirational role models who demonstrate accomplishment and empowered leadership. Unleash small, diverse teams to pursue bold ideas in response to challenges. Create work structures and incentives aligned with intrinsic motivation. Promote a culture of inspiring vision built on authenticity and powered by trust.
  • Unleash and scale organizational creativity – Share information for collective vision. Tap into global expertise networks. Expand management and communication style repertoires. Build ad hoc constituencies of those sharing common goals. Influence collective behavior through real-time analytics.