Is Your Leadership Style a Bottleneck to Creativity?
Leaders have a tough job. They are in charge, so the success and failure of an organization rests on their shoulders. It makes sense that they want to have a lot of say in how things are done.
It is also true that most managers got to where they were as a result of their competence. Despite being the butt of a lot of jokes in cartoons and TV shows, most leaders didn’t ‘luck into’ their jobs. They had to perform well and work hard to earn their position.
That feeling of responsibility and history of success, though, can sometimes hinder a leader. When they try to make all the decision on their own and are reluctant to let other people take the reins on projects, their leadership style can hamper the progress of an organization.
This is especially true in Lean companies where success is a function of how many people on the team are actively contributing to making improvements and solving problems. When a manager doesn’t learn to trust his team and give them some leeway in making decisions on their own, the manager becomes a bottleneck to creative thought.
A Creative Bottleneck Wastes a Team’s Intelligence
Here are some clues that your leadership style is creating a bottleneck that is limiting the creativity of your team.
You have a big stack of projects on your desk waiting for approval.
You feed more ideas to your team than they feed to you.
You don’t take vacations because things won’t get done while you are gone.
You get a lot of phone calls requesting instructions when you are away from gemba.
Your team is more likely to let a problem get worse than to risk facing you if they take the wrong action.
You very seldom hear anyone disagree with your ideas.
You have something to do with most of the process changes that happen in your area.
So leaders…if you see yourself in more than one or two of the items on the list, think about what you can do to learn to trust your team more. You can get them training. You can adopt more of a mentorship role. Or you can simply give them a chance to shine on some low risk projects to show you what they can do on their own.
But it all starts with recognizing that you are, in fact, a creativity bottleneck.
I’ll finish up this article by asking for your contributions. Please share any method you might have used to help open up your creativity bottleneck and get your team more engaged in problem solving and continuous improvement.