Why you can’t mandate creativity

Let’s get one thing clear — I am just a regular guy.

I am no business guru, I am not some mastermind behind a desk taking on one challenge after the next.

Everything that I write in this column will be lessons I likely learned the hard way, making some terrible decision, almost tanking my company or screwing myself over. That is the only way I have known success; by taking risks, falling flat on my face and trying to figure out how to get up and come back stronger.

I call that fall my ABYSS. It’s where I land when I have failed or made a mistake and need to regroup. So little growth has happened when I have been coasting. Everything I have ever learned, I have learned down there.

One of those lessons has been that you are only as strong as your team. After years of wrong hires, bad managers and different companies with struggling dynamics, I have learned to make the quality and culture of my team my first priority.

It is no secret that we are in a constantly evolving landscape of business. Whatever your industry, there is always an approaching change.

With my team, this means that we are meeting, rethinking and challenging the way we do things on a daily basis. In order to do that, there is one characteristic that I value above all else, and that is creativity. I have a fantastically creative team, and it is something we are constantly trying to nurture.

True creativity
Creativity has become a confusing buzzword.

It reads like a designation for certain people and not others, and this is an unnecessary fiction. To me, creativity is a mindset within which everything we do should operate. Thinking beyond our comfort zones, challenging structures, reinventing to strengthen what we do every day.

I believe that experience is a killer of creativity. We must remain creative students of what we do and rely on our growing wisdom to guide our innovation, instead of using our experience as a crutch to justify the inevitable stagnancy of our routines.

Creating a space that allows that demands great leadership.

In my position, I don’t get the time to talk shop with everyone in the company every day. What I have done is built — and continue to build — a passionate leadership team, a group which truly understands the importance of maintaining the spirit and culture of our business.

It surfaces in every facet of what we do; making sure that people have a place to voice their opinions and ideas about how we can be better. Making sure that those voices are treated as valid and that people feel appreciated for the effort it takes to give your all every day.

We are not always perfect at this, and every department has their ups and downs, but this is the standard we have set for our team.

It gives us our sense of purpose in what we do, which is the fuel that drives us to be our greatest selves. ●