What opens the door to new levels of creativity?

By Brian Sauder

As leaders, we are responsible to coach and guide those in our realm of influence. Throughout history, great leaders have been not only a source of ideas, but also inspiration. When people are both instructed and inspired, they move from being passive spectators to active participants. Often, a person’s true potential is only realized when a great leader gets involved in their life. Leadership is lifting people up, not pushing them down. As former US president Dwight Eisenhower said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head; that’s assault, not leadership.”

Effective global leaders set vision that looks at an appointed destination “down the road,” so to speak, and at the same time they also develop diverse teams of empowered individuals to help chart the course and manage the path to this destination. Today’s global leader must develop the humility to recruit, mobilize, and empower diversely talented teams.

Diverse Teams

In his book The World is Flat, Milton Friedman documents the rapidly changing reality of our present world. Starting with the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the mainstreaming of internet technology, he identifies ten forces that contribute to the “flattening” of the globe. He sums up these forces by identifying the triple convergence: “New players, on a new playing field, developing new processes and habits for horizontal collaboration—that is the most important force shaping global leadership. The flat world of today requires that leaders use the basic building blocks of team building, collaboration, appreciation for diversity and practical empowerment.”

In the past, the ability to manage information was the most-needed skill of a good leader. But in today’s rapidly changing world, it is more important for a leader to know how to constantly learn and solve problems as they arise. The most effective way to accomplish this is by working with a team that includes persons with talents and skills different from your own. A self-aware leader understands his or her limitations and makes building a diverse and effective team high priority on the list of leadership tasks.

Appreciation for a strong team means understanding that a team with diverse talents, life experiences, worldviews, nationalities, and backgrounds is the most effective one. To give one example, the postmodern mindset is radically different than its predecessor the modern mindset. An effective leader understands both mindsets and the associated behaviors of each. They will intentionally include both on the teams they build and empower them to succeed.

Empower Team Members

US General George Patton said, “Don’t tell people how to do things; tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their ingenuity.” When we empower others through training or opportunity, we open the door to new levels of creativity. We take the responsibility to discover and nurture the creativity of others. Ultimately our project will be more successful, but more importantly, the full potential of the persons we are serving can be realized.

A great leader will ask, “What do you need from me?” In doing so, we empower those around us. An empowering leader will help others not to fear failure. If someone fails, we ask, “What can we do so this doesn’t happen again?” Even in failure we develop new solutions and insights for the future.

In the DOVE family, we encourage apostles and prophets to work together. In this culture of honor, there is freedom to experiment and try new things. Our attitude should be that of research and development. In other words, the fear of failure will not hold us back. All of us make mistakes and might fall down, but this will only be a failure if we stay down. Failure happens to even the most seasoned leader. But leaders who admit their mistakes and keep moving forward—despite those mistakes—demonstrate phenomenal leadership to those around them. This inspires others to do the same.

The shift from leading by control to creating diverse, empowered teams is part of the new reality for today. The self-aware leader moves away from micromanaging and does more delegation. This empowers team members and puts them on track to reach their desired full potential. As team members grow and develop, so will the organization. Global leaders who value practical empowerment will find highly motivated team members working with them.

It has been said that hope is not a strategy. Just hoping that new leaders will emerge is not a strategy for developing them. Strategic personal development, positive empowerment, and relational accountability create an environment where people will answer this leadership call.