Sunday, August 12, 2018

CORPORATE SUFI: Becoming an authentic, creative leader



Azim Jamal

Azim Jamal 

By Azim Jamal, azim@corporatesufi.com

Today, in an increasingly volatile and complex world, where there is no one specific roadmap for success, what we need are creative leaders; leaders who can create and foster an environment to draw out the individual potential of each member of the team.

Over my last two decades working with global corporations, I have noticed there are certain key qualities which define creative leaders.

Let’s look at some of their qualities:

1. They are authentic – Creative leaders think and act from a place of truth within themselves. Creativity is borne out of authenticity, the courage to explore fresh ideas to create new meaning and value, and do away with what no longer serves us, despite the risk of disapproval or censure. Creative leaders consider all viewpoints, but are able to remain independent of others’ good or bad opinions, thus relying on their inner wisdom to guide their effort.

2. They draw connections – Steve Jobs defined creativity as simply connecting things. He said “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” Nothing in this world is original; rather it is built on the foundation of preceding discoveries or inventions.

3. They value quiet time alone – Big ideas usually make their way forth when the mind is quiet, and creative leader’s value quiet time in their daily lives. Many of them are avid meditators or practice other mindful practices like Tai Chi and Qigong to calm their inner chatter and allow ideas and solutions to emerge.

4. They are problem solvers – While average folk discuss the impact of problems, creative leaders are programmed to look for solutions. For them a problem is just another opportunity for creating more value and self-development.

5. They are inspired by the love of what they do – Creative leaders constantly seek purpose and meaning in their work. They are passionate about their vision, and this energy inspires others to follow suit. They understand the importance of showing everyone the big picture and continuing to foster a positive environment in which others can draw their own sense of purpose and contribute their unique part to the solution.

6. They take time to nurture their creative space - While creative ideas are touted to pop up when least expected, it often takes months and years of relentless work to enable the proverbial flash. Creative leaders actively seek out experiences, interactions and experimentation to spark creative thinking.

7. They challenge the status quo – Robert Kennedy once said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”. Creative leaders allow themselves to be curious and open. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it means upsetting a few agendas or vested interest groups. They ask questions, challenge assumptions, imagine unseen possibilities and are willing to dig deeper to overcome the obstacles laid down by those who favour the status quo.

8. They live in the Now – Creative leaders are dreamers with robust imagination, but with their feet planted firmly on the ground. So while they have exciting ideas for the future, they possess a sharp awareness of their present environment coupled with adaptability and flexibility. Hence, they are comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty and thrive on change.

9. They believe that creativity is a state of mind – Creative leaders believe that anyone and everyone is creative. The only thing needed is self-confidence and the right outlet for expression.

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