Steps for Creative Leadership

shaping the future with creative leadership solutions

It is easy to look around and see challenges, notice problems, or become overwhelmed by uncertainty and complexity. When this happens, it is also easy to place expectations on individuals in certain roles. In these circumstances, leaders benefit from recognizing strategic tools that are available for use. Often in Western settings, our default is to rely on linear thinking. However, by embracing circular thinking leaders can address a complex situation with a different perspective.

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

1. What’s the desired future?

Vision, vision, vision. Seemingly every leader knows the necessity of a vision. Vision is the critical method for bringing about the desired future. But, how is a vision created? One of the first considerations is the time horizon of the vision… 5–10 years, 20–30 years, 50+ years are commonly referenced time intervals.

Time Horizon Illustration

A helpful tool for leaders to leverage is the implications wheel. The implications wheel is a brainstorming tool which serves several purposes. The implications wheel pull individuals outside of their typical thinking patterns. For maximum collaboration, the implications wheel activity is generally led by a facilitator who guides a group of leaders through the process. The activity helps leaders around the table ideate and collaborate re: a desired future. These wheels can be quite elaborate and allow leaders to ideate potential implications they seek to avoid as well as provide implications they seek to promote.

An example of an initial implications wheel for a faith-based organization

2. How is the desired future connected to an organization’s context?

With the desired future in hand, leaders often have a complex task ahead of bringing that future to life within their context. A Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) is a strategic foresight tool for leaders to visually map their context. CLD uses a comprehensive perspective, noting variables that impact the system. Typically, a CLD is best completed in a group setting where a facilitator guides participants for expanded contribution.

An example of a simplified CLD

There are generally two wheels created: a current state CLD and a desired state CLD. The two diagrams then offer perspective for leaders to leverage when crafting a future-focused strategy to bring about the desired future.

3. What happens with all these insights?

After completing these initiatives, leaders are armed with insights to shape a future-focused strategy. As a team or with the guidance of a leadership practitioner, the group establishes a strategy with specific goals, milestones, and objectives that support the actuality of the desired future. Once the strategy is crafted, the leaders actualize the strategy — ultimately fueling the creation of the desired future.

What about your organization?