Thanks for requesting the course bonuses! My hope is that they’ll help you go even further in implementing the principles we’ve covered.
Let’s start where we finished – because the things you must ALWAYS do are really the most important.
- As I mentioned in the Brainstorming Blueprint, probably the best recommendation I can make for any creative leader who really wants to master the 7 leadership principles we covered would be to take the Herding Tigers Creative Leader Course.
It’s a comprehensive look at the operating system you can use to build the kind of team that consistently produces brilliant work.
- Also, I recently wrote an article called, Shooting Stars, Sweat Shops, and Summer Camps, that takes a closer look at the types of organizations that emerge when leaders fail to navigate the tension between stability and challenge. You can download it here.
The “BEFORE” Stage:
- Defining Problems:
Because everything that happens in your organization is probably organized by projects, not problems to solve, it can be difficult to keep pushing your team back to the actual problem they’re tasked with solving. When this happens it sometimes introduces “assassins” into your team that can rob them of their focus, time, and attention. I created a podcast episode about this a while back, and it might help you gain some clarity around the dynamics you’re seeing on your team.
- Winging It:
The more experienced you are, the more tempting it is to just “wing it” when leading a brainstorming session. However, it’s precisely because of your experience that you need to prepare more. Why? Because while you have more history to draw from, you are also more prone to assumptive thinking. You’ve seen a lot, and therefore it’s tempting to come to conclusions too quickly. By taking just a bit of time to prepare for the session, you’re not only helping your team to come ready to go, but you’re also challenging yourself to step out of your reactive, assumptive ruts.
- Treating All People the Same:
While not always the case, there is (in my experience) a bit of overlap between “fast twitch” people and extroversion, and “slow twitch” people and introversion. As a manager, you need to be able to effectively lead all of the people on your team so as to ensure that they’re bringing their best to the table every day. Here’s a great article that shares some insights about how to lead everyone on your team according to what they need from you.
The “DURING” Stage:
- The Spark:
The Spark is one of my favorite tools to pull out, especially in the early stages of a new initiative or when you’re trying to come up with something completely new. Sometimes you can also give your team a specific question to spark their curiosity and help them think in new ways about the problem they’re solving. I wrote a blog post a few years ago with a number of questions you can ask to help you and your team get unstuck. You can read it here.
- Free Association:
Free association is a fun (and sometimes challenging) exercise for generating ideas. As I mentioned, we created a tool called the Personal Idea Pad to make the process easier. And you can Download it now. Feel free to use it on your own or with your team. (It’s for your use only – please don’t share it elsewhere.)
- The Tournament of Champions:
This is a great exercise because it allows for rapid iteration and quickly turning a decent idea into something everyone can get excited about. Have some fun with it and create a full-fledged bracket for your team to use to monitor progress and vote. Speaking of that process, here’s a quick and interesting overview of the iteration process used at Google.
The “AFTER” Stage:
- Inviting People Into Decision-Making:
It’s tempting to want to be the “super hero” as a leader, but when you do that you sometimes lose trust rather than gain it. I’d challenge you this week to think about one person on your team you want to intentionally (and strategically) invite into a decision you’re making. Ask them for their specific input on a problem you’re wrestling with.
- Providing A Decision Framework:
Because creative work is so subjective, it can be a challenge to justify the decisions that you make. Using a simple framework like the one shared in this video can help a lot. One way to use it is to have each team member rank Effectiveness, Practicality, and Coolness on a scale of 1-10, then add up their scores. That puts just a bit of a quantitative element into what is typically a highly qualitative process.
- Embracing Conflict
Conflict is the natural by-product of talented, creative people bumping into one another. However, how you handle conflict is everything. I created a podcast episode that dives deeper into how to manage conflict effectively.