Why Business Executives Should Become Creative Leaders in the Future

Why Business Executives Should Become Creative Leaders in the Future

By Timo Kiuru, September 24, 2019

The future of work is a hot topic right now.

Technological advancements and changes in society have always both eradicated and created new jobs. For instance, technological innovation first created the job of a telephone operator and later abolished it. Similarly, technology led to developing the job of an Uber driver, which will most probably disappear along with self-driving cars in the future.

That’s life.

We all need to make space for something new and let go of something old. As futurist Gerd Leonhard puts it: “Everything that can be automated and digitalized will be automated and digitalized.” The same applies to jobs.

According to “The Future of Jobs Report of the World Economic Forum,” the top three work-life skills of the future are complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. Also, emotional intelligence, negotiation and cognitive flexibility will be some of the key mindsets future workers must possess.

As a practitioner of creative leadership, I couldn’t be happier. Finally, leading creativity will become the tough heart of business. It’s time to say goodbye to all those bosses who treat people like robots.

Let’s take a look at how these crucial skillsets can be harnessed and developed from a leadership perspective. That’s exactly what creative directors are hired to do; to lead and get more out of their team.

Let’s first focus on complex problem solving and critical thinking. Solving complex problems begins by defining the problem together. From my experience, it’s of utmost importance to make sure everyone on the team understands what the aim is. At this phase of the project, it’s better to over communicate than assume—even if it’s not the most effective way of working.

We shouldn’t be applying rules meant for factory work in a time when most of our work requires critical, deep thinking. Have you ever had a day when you’ve turned up at the office really early, managed to concentrate like a monk, and got a lot stuff done? It’s probably because you weren’t constantly interrupted.

Simple solution: Schedule four hours for continuous flow and concentration for yourself and your team members, and the quality of thinking in your organization will improve.

What’s the best way to enhance creativity then?

Well it’s not about saying, “Let’s think outside the box” or brainstorming in a quirkily furnished meeting room. According to professor Alf Rehn, organizations don’t suffer from a lack of ideas, but quite the contrary. Organizations across different industries have plenty of ideas, but a lack of interest in them. Being interested in ideas and ready to put in the effort to make them better is contagious. Steve Jobs may have not been the most empathetic boss, but he sure was obsessed with relentlessly improving ideas.

If you are after a more creative organization, think about how to build more respect first, then move on to building more trust among team members. That’s when people’s brains connect with each other and start to work together on the task at hand—just like how cloud-based computing combines the processing power of multiple processing units. That’s team intelligence.

There’s been plenty of buzz around artificial intelligence, digital transformation, 3D printing, blockchain, the internet of things, big data and robotics—you name it. Let’s focus more of our attention on what makes us human, and also in leadership—especially today, but into the future, too.

True leaders want to be the first to adapt to change. You can’t lead people if you can’t manage yourself. Change begins within.


Timo KiuruTimo Kiuru is a global creative director and the founder of a creative brand consultancy, The Unthinkable. He has written a free interactive book on experience marketing, and travels the world speaking to professional audiences. Kiuru was a member of the Connect Corporate 40 Under 40 in 2016. 

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