How to Become a Creative Leader

Dan Black writes a leadership blog which has a balance of faith-based and secular posts. His desire is to help others become better people and leaders. You can check out his blog here and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The definition of creativity is, “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, and method.” This shows why it’s important to be a creative leader. If you want to influence your people and organization to a better future then it’s going to require creativity. Here are

4 ways to become more creative:
Think– If you take time to think it will begin to spark your creativity. This is because you will have time to consider and think about new solutions, “ideas”, and “methods” which then can be applied to what you’re leading. The practice of thinking is often uncommon among leaders in today’s society. However, it is important for leaders to take time to think because it allows them to be more creative and successful.

Write– Taking time to write down your ideas and thoughts is important. Doing this allows you to capture your creativity on paper. A beneficial exercise to creative writing is to free write. This is a time set aside to write down your ideas and thoughts. Start by writing about anything that comes to mind and then, as you write, your creativity will start coming through. You will begin to come up with new ideas, thoughts, and solutions.

Association– Every leader should have the habit of spending time with creative people. You become like the people you spend time with. As you spend more time with creative people you will find their creativity starts rubbing off on you.

Develop– Being more creative is something anyone can learn and develop. This happens when a person is intentional about reading, listening, and attending conferences where the topic of creativity is discussed. If you want to become a more creative leader then you should set up a plan to develop your creativity.

If a leader applies these 4 areas into their life they will be better equipped to solve problems, create more and better products, and generate more ideas.

Question: What are some other ways a leader can develop their creativity?


  1. I’ve found trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone and visiting new places all help me become a more creative leader. Something as simple as the mission trip to Czech gives me new ideas and perspectives on how to lead, as they have a different method of leading.

    •  Jason,

      Great additional ways to become more creative. It does require getting out of our comfort zone at times. Thank you for sharing. 

  2. I like that you emphasized being intentional about learning (reading, writing, etc).  We can’t just assume we will develop into more rounded people- we must be intentional about it.

    I agree with Jason about getting out of my comfort zones- that always challenges me and helps me grow.  I am not one who likes change, so I have to be intentional about stepping out of my safety areas and into knew experiences.

  3. I have found that people who incorporate their faith in their creativity are able to produce some of their most powerful work. Leaders who create from their heart keep me engaged and influence my life in a positive way.

    •  Julie,

      I totally agree with you. A person is  more creative if they are connected with God and have Him speaking into their life. Thanks you for sharing that.

  4. Love association principle!  For me I have to think out loud and if I am not exchanging ideas with someone else or talking about something I have a hard time simply “creating” something out of nowhere.  Great point Dan!

    •  David,

      Having people you can talk with about ideas and your thoughts is so important. When it comes to creating some times more people is better. Thanks for sharing your insights on this topic.

  5. Think and write, wow the most simplest words and actions are so profound. Dan you had me questioning if I do these things on a consistent basis. Being creative as a Leader has so many meanings. Then Associate and Develop, your association with creative people definitely makes you think bigger also, they stretch you. If you develop yourself you will find yourself developing others. Thanks Dan.

    •  Lincoln Parks,

      Simple but something we all need a reminder on every once in a while:)

      I know I’m doing most of these on a regular basis, when I start noticing mt creativity going down I make sure to spend some time applying these points. Having a team of creative people maximizes the creative process(Or any other aspect). 

      Great additional insights. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  6. I love the post and the principles.  

    I will often times go places that are creative and I do that because of past experiences.  Years ago when I worked on a staff and we would literally have “creative meeting”.  We found that many times we would get great ideas when we were outside the normal confines of the office.  Some of the best ideas came as we walked through IKEA.  Going places that just are creative give about a real sense of creativity and be able to look at things differently.

    •  Jim,

      What a great idea. Getting outside of the normal area and going places that can spark more creativity. I personally find when I’m at the beach or in nature, I’m more creative. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  7. I love # 1, which is thinking.  It’s true that many people, leaders included, go through life with a closed mind. 

    I know this can be found within the four points but i would add, “try something different”. Take a break from your normal routine. I’ve heard that a change is sometimes often as good as rest :) and I’ve found that it works for me. It re-energizes and makes creativity flow, avoids that stagnation and struggle. 

    •  Ngina,

      I responded to your comment earlier but it looks like it did not show up (Or I can’t see it). Anyway,

      Great additional aspect. Trying something different can cause us to become even more creative because we are away from our “normal routine.” Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

  8. Lynnae Lawson says:

    Great points, Dan! I generally add REVISE to my creative steps. While my initial idea, through thinking, writing, association, or development, may be stellar, it generally needs a little tweaking. As a teacher, I am constantly evaluating my lesson plans (whether they were terrible or fantastic) with the intention of increasing effectiveness and creativity.

    •  Lynnae Lawson,

      I totally agree with you. I have found most first thoughts or ideas are not the best, I need to “revise” or continue to think on them for them to become better. This is such an important aspect a person should know and remember. Thanks for sharing it.

      Also, what do you teach? What’s the age group?

  9. One of the additional ways to be creative is to actually draw ideas, be it sketches or graphs. I find it takes thinking to a whole new level. Great thoughts and reminders to all of us that we can do more, and not to get stuck in the traditional ways of thinking. One thing is for sure; change…

    •  Floyd,

      Thanks for sharing that, it’s a great additional point. I’ll have to think about how I could do that more. I think with me it’s more writing down on paper (some times with graphs) the ideas I have.

      Change is sometime hard but it’s needed. Thanks for reading.

  10. One thing I read recently from Seth Godin via Jeff Goins is the importance of writing publicly.

    Godin argues that people get “writer’s block” but never get “talker’s block.” The difference is that we speak publicly all the time and get a lot of practice, but we don’t practice putting ourselves out there enough with our writing. 

    •  Rob,

      Both  Seth and Jeff are great thinkers and writers. I wonder if their is a site to better write publicly? I know a blog can help but a community where you can free write or something then have other people come together and talk or add to the writing. Or a place to better “practice putting ourselves out there” when it comes to writing.

      Someone should create a site like that. I’ll have to be thinking about that more. Thank you so much for sharing it. 

  11. Love associate, Dan! To me, other people feed my ability think, write, and develop. All are important, but associate is the catalyst for me.

    Great post, thanks!

  12. Christopher Jones says:

    Great post Dan. I think it was Jim Rohn who said that he spent an hour a day with a blank legal pad just to “think”. I remember that when I am writing. I am still amazed almost every time how what I write would have never been written or even thought about if I didn’t just start writing something.

    • Chris, while I can’t speak for an hour a day I know how much I and my office benefits from me pulling away me just taking some intentional “think time.” my motivation and focus are renewed and I often can solve problems that left me puzzled when they were in my face.

    •  Christopher Jones,

      Jim Rohn is an insightful man.  Great last sentence, it often takes starting to write/think to create wonderful content, thoughts, or ideas. 

      Thinking is often over looked but it’s such an important aspect to a leader.

      Thanks for sharing these insights. Do you have a site?

  13. Loved number 1 as well. Neuroscience is teaching us a lot about maximizing how we use our mind. When the front part of our brain (where executive functions like creativity happen) is free from distractions, we are able to maximally use it. Nice post

    • This is very interesting Charles. So getting free from distractions can help us create and think better, It totally makes sense. I really enjoy learning about how Neuroscience and how our brains work. Have you read Daniel Golman’s book Emotional Intelligence or any other books from him?

  14. Great point about simply thinking. That’s something we just don’t do enough – just having the discipline of taking some time to sit and think. I’ve done that occasionally and have found it immensely helpful.

    •  Loren,

      Thinking is often undervalued but brings about so many benefits. I’m not writing as an expert thinker but try and discipline myself to think. Thank you for reading and sharing. 

  15. Dan, “Thinking” is absolutely critical. I combine “thinking” with writing. I will just sit in a quiet place and think through an issue with pen and paper in hand. It’s amazing how a moment of solitude, and thinking, will develop ideas, and solutions to problems.

    • I do the same thing Juan and it has been very beneficial for me. I think everyone should take more time for a “moment of solitude.” It’s such an important function a leader can do.  Thank you for reading and sharing your insights.

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