How Can Business Leaders Mentor Strong Teamwork and Still Encourage Individual Creativity?

The most effective leaders nurture strong teamwork, without putting a lid on the creative individual – the outlier. It isn’t easy to manage all the pieces, without wanting to hammer them together. Nor is it easy to be the one who tries to conform to the team rules and finds him or herself coloring outside the lines simply because their brains are wired differently.

Kermit, the frog, said what most creative-minds face every day – it isn’t easy being green. For Kermie’s creator, Jim Henson, it wasn’t always easy to “think different.” The creative person is often labeled a little weird. But the creative weirdness of their brains has given us break-through findings, theories, and creations that we would otherwise be without.

Think Nobel Prize winner, John Nash who believed aliens were contacting him, Howard Hughes, became a germ-a-phobic, or poet Sylvia Plath who felt so misunderstood she stuck her head in an unlit-gas oven. Were they crazy, geniuses, or a bit of both?

In “Scientific American Mind” Shelly Carson, (an expert in the field of creativity and how the brain of the highly creative works) says, “Highly creative people seem weirder than the rest of us.” (Scientific American Mind, Special edition Winter 2014, The Unleashed Mind) Carson posits that highly creative people are wired differently than most. Scientists believe that these people have ‘reduced cognitive filtering’ pushing them to live more inside their own heads, than as part of a team.

If effective leaders want to become extraordinary leaders, to move ahead of the competition, to solve-problems, or change how we see something, they must recognize that the big idea could come from the outlier of the team. The one with purple hair, the one who rarely emerges from his or her office, the person who is late to, or forgets meetings, or the one who always see things differently, frequently causing friction on the team.

They are the triangle pegs trying to fit into the round holes. Create different kinds of spaces inside your team. Leave room for the outlier into whose brain flows ideas the rest of us cannot see, and sometimes not readily understand. We are not, nor should we be, all alike.

An Extraordinary Leader:

  • Looks for strengths in an individual not his or her weaknesses
  • Allows different speeds for different people on your team
  • Keeps frustration with the “rule bender” in check

Yes, the highly creative person on the team can be the pebble in your shoe, or he or she may become the rock of genius on your team. Be an extraordinary leader and encourage team work while allowing the creative team member to have a little latitude. True leadership and teamwork is coming together, and celebrating individual strengths.

(Scientific American Mind, Special edition Winter 2014, The Unleashed Mind, by Shelley Carson)

Connie Timpson is a performance coach, and facilitator who explores the EXTRAordinary everyday. She believes in one thing over all else – the client. Your needs and challenges are her priority. Her goal is to help you become EXTRAordinary. Her diverse background as a journalist, coach and trainer gives makes her passionate about figuring out group-dynamics, bringing out the strengths of individuals, and building stronger teams. Her philosophy is simple, “Every human being is interesting, has a story to tell, a unique perspective, and brings strength, and individual gifts, to any team.”