Typically, leaders know the rules to inspire, motivate and just explain get employees to be productive in the work they do. Yet, in today’s business climate, the use of creativity and rules come into play in different ways from the traditional or conventional way of getting things done.
The challenge is in finding the balance between leading employees and having employees be creative and innovative. Since creative types are a different breed, they are less worried about profit, less tied into the world of MBAs and bottom lines. If you lead your team too tightly, you run the risk of creating narrow-minds and inflexibility. If you lead your team too loosely, the team can fall into the trap of perpetual creativity, but accomplish nothing. Your objective as the team leader is not to swing too hard in either direction.
In most respects, creativity has rules to help you change the habits you have of conventional or traditional ways of getting things done. It is important to know the rules before you consider breaking them.
If you think for a minute or two about all of the rules that you conform to as a) individuals and b) groups then you will be surprised at how long the list is. Your list might start something like:
I begin work at 9am and leave at 5pm
I only work Monday to Friday
I must get my timesheet in by 5pm on Friday
Only senior managers can use the covered parking spaces
We must answer the telephone within 5 rings
… And the list goes on. Create your own list and see how many could be broken without affecting anybody else. By keeping a list of these rules in mind, you can balance between what you can and cannot do.
We all conform to rules and create boundaries which become constrained by for one reason or another. Try breaking some rules and see what happens, don’t think of it as breaking rules, instead think of it as stretching your boundaries.
Breaking the Rules for Creative Innovation
There are those times when you need to realize that creativity does actually have rules. They are not the same as traditional or conventional company rules. When you know enough to realize that rules decrease your productivity, it’s often a good time to break them. Rule breaking, of course, means risk.
“Rules can be broken as long as you work for a company that is comfortable with disruption as a defining them for growth,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional Survival Guide.
Hiring creative and innovative people are not the same as hiring an employee for a profit making company. You need to look definitely “outside the box” in tapping creative people for generating ideas for greater breakthrough results. Their experiences and unique abilities and capabilities with how well they collaborate with team members are very important.
Creativity boils down to breaking the rules
No one likes to be thought of as a conformist who is afraid to take a chance and break the rules. “When you know enough to realize that the rules don’t make sense or seem to bog down productivity, it’s often a good time to break them,” says Mark McMillion, founder of Clarksburg, West Virginia based McMillion Leadership Associates.
“You stand out by breaking the rules with your business- doing things no one else will do.” -Julie Austin
Calculate the risk of staying where you are and conducting business as you have been versus getting out of your survival mode or getting a jump over your competition to thrive beyond your expectation with being creative and innovative.
Rules are made to be broken when creating and innovating. Traditional rules hold back creativity and innovation breakthrough results.
A good team leader lets the team know the general direction where it’s heading, and trusts everyone enough to carry on. That is not to say that the team leader is completely hands-off, but it means that they have confidence in the group to move forward without her micro-managing every detail. If the work is going too far off the rails, the team leader needs to step in and keep everyone on track and moving forward.
“If the rules of creativity are the norm for a company, creative will be the norm.”
– Jim Gilmore