This year was a tough one for businesses. Most of them had to re-think their structure and implement remote work adjustments to survive. And although 2020 is almost over, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the future. However, creative leadership can bring the best out of leaders and teams during these hard times.
Sharon Koifman, DistantJob’s President and Founder, has been leading his remote recruitment company for almost a decade. During his early years of working remotely, he noticed the importance of encouraging creativity in teams.
To innovate, think outside the box, and adapt to the world’s constant changes, teams need to continually push themselves to be creative. And leaders have a crucial role in making this happen.
There is the misconception that creativity is only for artists who like making music or painting. Yet, creativity applies to many different areas, and according to a study conducted by IBM, where 1500 CEOs responded, creativity is the most important virtual leadership quality.
But how can you encourage creative leadership in your team? How can creativity help your business thrive during and past these difficult times?
Sharon Koifman shares five strategies to help you encourage creativity in your virtual team:
5 Strategies to Develop Creative Leadership
1. Encourage diversity in your team
According to research, companies with diverse teams are 35% more likely to perform at a higher level than those who don’t. When you hire people with different backgrounds, mindsets, cultures, it’s easier to encourage healthy debates on new ways of solving problems.
If you hire people with the same background bringing new ideas to the table is harder because you all think alike. There’s little room for debate or innovation.
Building a diverse workplace is about going against your unconscious bias during interviews and hiring candidates because of their talent and what they can bring to the company.
2. Build a mistake friendly environment
Creative leadership means giving space to failure. Seeing failure as an opportunity rather than a threat, and one of the best ways to do this in your team is rewarding creativity. Telling your team to defy the way they solve problems or how they come up with new ideas.
When you encourage creativity, you’re automatically opening space for a mistake friendly environment. Keep in mind that your team might make mistakes and mess it up sometimes, but it’s part of the process, and as a leader, your role is to show your team how they can learn from these mistakes, transforming them into something positive.
3. Make room for creativity
Some of the world’s greatest minds prioritize making room for creativity and space to think. For example, Bill Gates takes ‘’think weeks’’, where twice a year he goes by himself to a cabin with the purpose of thinking.
Naturally, there are so many things to do at work. Your employees are focused on getting results, on making their tasks and being successful at it. And although this is great, it kills creativity because it doesn’t leave any room for it to happen.
Making room for creativity in a virtual environment is about encouraging your team members to have moments where they reflect and think or by having brainstorming sessions or debates to discuss a project or a thought.
4. Encourage collaboration
You can have the most creative people in your team, but it’s all in vain if you don’t encourage collaboration. An individual can have an idea but needs a team to make it happen.
Productive teams are those who know how to work with each other, despite their differences, because they know each member has its unique strength. And creativity happens in many places. It can happen while you are in a meditation session or when you are discussing a project with a team member.
By encouraging collaboration, you give employees space to listen to each other and empathize with different mindsets and backgrounds.
5. Be flexible
Remote work, in most cases, means flexible work. However, there are many remote teams with inflexible leaders. This means those who want their employees to make a determined process to reach the desired results.
Those leaders regularly think that if their employees make another process or strategy, they will mess things up. However, by changing these processes, sometimes employees can come with a more effective strategy that helps everyone on the team save time and energy.
Encourage Creativity and Innovation in Your Remote Team
Leaders are becoming aware of the importance of adapting to the world’s pace. These strategies can help you develop creative leadership and build an environment that embraces technology, diversity, and innovation.
Gabriela Molina is the Executive Editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelancer, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.