Leading an Organization Creatively

Source: Fast Company, May 2016

To Brown, successful leadership is like a dance. “It’s about the effective playing of a number of different leadership roles depending on the moment and the circumstances and having the skill to move between those stances as needs require,” he says.


“The most effective way of leading from the front in an organization if you want to be exploratory is to ask the best questions. Sometimes that’s a question about what our purpose is. Why are we here?

Ideo believes that a company “gardener” is one of the most important hires for creating a culture of innovation. While the “explorer” leads from the front, the gardener leads from behind.

“It’s about nurturing the conditions in which creativity is most likely to happen,” Brown says. “That’s really about culture, environment, rituals—the sorts of things that give people permission to explore, that encourage open-mindedness, collaboration, experimentation, and risk taking. Those sorts of things that we know are important for creativity.”

Brown believes that many leaders begin to think about company culture and environment when things are already amiss, but the trick is to set the right conditions before a company is broken.

“The most effective creative leaders are the ones who think, do I have the right circumstances to make the team successful?” he says. “Have I set them up? Is there something about our culture and this organization that’s getting in the way that I have to compensate for? Do I need to make the conditions and constraints different for this team?”


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