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Leadership isn’t child’s play…but it could be!

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - Stuart Schofield, Client Director in Mannaz

Leadership isnt childs play

On occasion, I get to do fun and playful work with some very fun and playful people. Some years ago I got to partner with a leadership team who were desperate to inject some creativity in to their strategic planning processes and we were spending a lot of our time building models and telling stories. It was a great experience. Years later, I am sitting in my kitchen watching my 5yr old twin daughters laugh and play together and I am reminded why this work was so important.

Leadership and creativity

Ask any leader why they are successful and most will have some degree of confidence that they have the diligence, the judgement and the social skills to get by. However, in my experience few would report to having the creativity and imagination that they would like.

That’s not surprising, creativity is not easy…and, whilst I see it all the time in my children, make no mistake, creativity is not ‘child’s play’…

…But it could be!

Imagination

If we pause for a second and consider what creativity requires from us, I wonder if there are lessons that we can learn from watching our own children.

 Here are just a few of the things that I have learned:

  • Explore – Play with a multitude of possibilities and don’t worry if you come up with nothing.

  • Build Something. Let go of the flip chart! Some of the most creative thinking I have seen has come when leaders have tried to build their vision using childrens toys like Lego, clay or simply a blank piece of paper and coloured pens.

  • Try things out simply for the hell of it – Free yourself from trying to come up with a ‘good’ idea straight away. If an idea doesn’t feel right….knock it down and start again. This is easier – and much more fun – if you have used LEGO or clay (see above)

  • Tell Stories. Stories create a shared meaning amongst people. By skilfully using stories and metaphors, leaders can dissolve the complexity inherent in organsations and create a set of ideas that everyone can share.

  • Say whatever comes in to your mind – Be open. Be fearless.

  • Pretend. Children will often take one object and pretend that it is another. At Mannaz we have a tool that challenges leaders to think about their organisation as if it was a completely different type of business. It’s surprisingly effective.

So let’s try and leverage the imagination and creativity that has laid dormant since our childhoods. Go ahead! Have some fun!

If you are interested in using Lego to boost your imagination, you may want to check out the following: Use Lego to boost your imagination

Author

Stuart Schofield

Client Director in Mannaz