How to envision a better future

Menno van Dijk 1 1
January 15th, 2015
Article by: Menno van Dijk, Rajiv Ball, Robert Wolfe
How to envision a better future

Cheetahs begin their hunting careers by attacking anything that moves – from antelopes to rhinoceroses – indiscriminately.

 

As this happens so early in their development, only 25% of cheetahs reach adulthood. These young cubs combine passion (hunting) and purpose (to fill their bellies), but lack the mastery of knowing how and what to kill. Creative leaders face a similar challenge in seeing their ideas reach the next stage of development.

 

Professional mastery is key to bringing an idea into practice and towards success. The desire and passion to build, for instance, a leading global software firm needs to be combined with knowledge and expertise of all its elements – programming, industry success factors, skills, etc.; otherwise your survival rate will be lower than the young cheetah.

 

Mastering a profession to the fullest will allow you to become a true bearer of change. By using both insight and a wide-ranging helicopter views to see where your field is heading, you will have a detailed understanding of which elements really matter. Being able to envision a better future must be combined with the insights and qualities of true creative leadership for innovation to really ignite.

Creative Leadership Model

The creative leadership model was initially developed from literature research, consulting experience, and extensive input from leading companies. Using the THNK 360° Mirror tool, a database was created allowing participants to self-reflect and obtain feedback on their leadership qualities from peers, superiors, and employees. This tool uncovered a richness of underlying dimensions and characteristics that became truly useful for participants in their personal development.

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Using data on creative leadership competencies enlightens the model on a bigger scale. One of the Mirror’s features asks users to define which sub-elements cluster best. Using a factor analysis method allows to uncover how certain elements are correlated by analyzing a random distribution. These algorithms group the sub-elements in such a way that the most similar result in ending up together. This yielded almost the same distribution as we had initially developed from experience and literature about the subject.

Articulating a clear vision

Articulating a clear vision asks you to lucidly define the concept to yourself, which can be difficult at first. Many people often struggle with clearly understanding their own ideas and intuitions, especially when these are about abstract and futuristic situations. Very often the vision in this context is flexible, unfinished, and ready to encompass every possible situation. To articulate a clear vision means keeping track of these adaptations at all times. A creative leader manages to do that while being connected to today’s spirit and language.

How to Envision a Better Future 6
Articulating a clear vision requires you to lucidly define the concept to yourself. Click To Tweet

Storytelling that moves to act

There are many kinds of stories. Some are entertaining or search for a deeper meaning, while others move people to act. The key is very often found in the storyteller, who keeps an eye on the greater cause and can skilfully move people emotionally and inspire the organization into action. The right storyteller can be the trigger that drives breakthrough change. Our analyses show that creative leaders capable of telling stories that move to act are also good at creating a sense of urgency and inescapability, accelerating change, and influencing the system.

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The right storyteller can be the trigger that drives breakthrough change. Click To Tweet

Growing and harvesting creative networks

Although some creative leaders are capable of impact on their own, the chances of driving change are much larger within a creative team. A creative team dynamic differs from a management group on a very fundamental level: management teams tend to strive for the continuation of an existing model, much like providing an already moving train with a smooth track to continue its travel. Creative teams, on the other hand, are looking for new solutions and opportunities – and trying to make them happen. By encouraging flexibility, they are not afraid to change directions or take the train off the track altogether.

 

Growing and harvesting creative networks, outside the team, is a very different competency. Creative networks are independent actors within a sector– suppliers, competitors, customers, professionals, and institutions – that influence each other and collaborate to create innovative solutions towards a common goal. Growing and harvesting such networks is about masterminding the right communication platforms and collaboration incentives. Creative leaders accomplished in this achieve much higher reach and leverage, and as result much more scale.

To discover how the THNK Executive Leadership Program can help you further develop your potential into leadership ability, visit the program page or contact us at admissions@thnk.org.

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