Exerting His Influence

March 9, 2014

Susan Moger

by Susan Moger

He may never have heard of management writer Stephen R. Covey and his theory of working within your ‘Circle of Influence’. However, that is exactly how 8 year old Caydon Taiplalus, from Michigan, USA acted, when he saw a classmate refused a hot school meal

His friend did not have the money to pay for the food. When Caydon got home, he began to collect used cans and bottles and small change from his relatives. His fundraising raised $64 and this was enough to pay off the deficit on his classmates’ lunch accounts so that they could have a hot school meal.

The Circle of Influence

Stephen R. Covey urges individuals to develop a proactive attitude by working in their ‘Circle of Influence’ He suggests that we can all be more effective if we recognise that we operate in a Circle of Influence and a Circle of Concern.

The Circle of Concern

Our Circle of Concern includes things that we cannot directly control (the climate, our organisational structure, our relatives, past disagreements). This contrasts with Circle of Influence which includes things we can directly do something about, including our behaviour and our responses to situations. By being active and positive we can increase our Circle of Influence, by being passive and negative we can decrease it. Positive behaviour can also draw other people to us, even if we didn’t originally intend to do this.

Caydon works in his circle of influence

Now totally committed to his idea with help from family and friends, Caydon has developed a website and recently had collected $7,000, to help other children in Michigan and beyond whose parents are struggling to find the money to pay for a hot school meal.
‘It isn’t right that kids go hungry at school and if I can do something about it I will’, he says.

If we all took our cue from Caydon and ‘did what we could’, then perhaps maybe things that ‘aren’t right’ wouldn’t stay that way.

[Susan is Senior Fellow in Leadership at Manchester Business School. Her work involves directing executive programmes. Susan also teaches leadership on MBSW MBA programmes.]


How leaders support (and sometimes hinder) corporate innovation

September 13, 2011

Research shows that leadership commitment can be a powerful supporting factor within global new product development projects. However, the commitment can also have an inhibiting effect

The surprising result emerged from prize-winning study by a team of researchers from Europe and America who studied the relationships between leadership commitment and effectiveness of new product development (NPD) projects surveying nearly 400 global business units.

The paper by Elko Kleinschmidt, Ulrike De Brentani, and Søren Salomo won the Susan Moger and Tudor Rickards best paper award for 2010, voted by the editorial board of Creativity and Innovation Management Journal.

The study

The study draws on information processing theories of innovation which explore the relationships between information technology deployment and knowledge conversion into new products. The researchers examined the impact of senior managers internally as moderating factors in the process.

Such research requires the most careful attention to methodology to arrive at claims for reliability and conceptual validity of conclusions. The difficulties increase when the studies are multi-level (internal to the firm, and out into the wider global environment). The authors are careful to address these issues.

The anticipated findings

Among the anticipated findings was the conventional wisdom that top management commitment enhances innovation efforts. The authors were to find the view only partially confirmed.

The actual findings

“The research indicates that Senior Management Involvement does not impact global NPD outcome directly, but that there are significant interactions with the two [internal environmental factors]. One may speculate that Senior Management Involvement permeates all aspects of international NPD – but, in a leadership, visioning and delegating fashion – and that its real impact on performance is primarily indirect, through its moderation of all related systems and activities”.

The research adds evidence to another suspicion among technical professions, that top management enthusiasm for a technological fix may result in over-zealous involvement and perhaps ‘meddling’

On getting too involved

“By supporting the IT-Comm Infrastructure of their firms, senior management gives it relevance and legitimacy, potentially making its use an integral part of the global NPD culture of the firm and thus ensuring its use throughout the organization. At the same time, getting too involved in the day-to-day NPD operations can be problematic. Already developed capabilities in the form of routines for concrete problem solving could be weakened through ad hoc approaches introduced by top management.”

Notes

The researchers were honoured at a dinner in Corpus Christi college Cambridge [September 7th 2011] hosted by Dr James Moultrie, Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University as an event within the 1st Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference (CADMC). James was the recipient of the award in 2009.

The photograph shows from left to right Professor Olaf Fischer, University of Twente; Susan Moger, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester; Emeritus Professor Elko Kleinschmidt, McMaster University; Emeritus Professor Tudor Rickards, Manchester University; Dr James Moultrie, Cambridge University; Dr Søren Salomo, Danish Technical University; and Dr Klassjan Visscher, University of Twente.

Olaf and Klassan are co-editors of Creativity and Innovation Management Journal [with, in absentia, Professor Petra de Weerd-Nederhof, University of Twente].


Social Media and the diffusion of unrest

August 10, 2011

Susan Moger

Rioting in England appears to have spread contagiously across London and then to other cities in August 2011. The process calls for new thinking about the nature of leadership and the activation of social networks

Riots in London and around the country over the last three days [August 8-10, 2011] have seen widespread looting and buildings set alight. Dozens were left homeless after a night of riots on the streets of Tottenham on Saturday after a peaceful demonstration over the death of Mark Duggan a local resident, who was shot by police a few days earlier [Thursday Aug 4th].

One part of the debate centres around the concept of a trigger event as the single cause or tipping point for future actions. If we examine a historical pattern of events , comparisons have been drawn with the rioting some twenty five years ago which were triggered off by police actions in the same social housing complex (the Broadwater Farm Estate) from which the victim came.

The disturbances in London have illustrated how quickly a latent focus for unrest and mistrust can be ignited, or reignited with tragic consequences.

Urban guerrilla warfare

The situation has been particularly difficult to deal with because of the rapid spread of information that can help organisers to mobilise, operate and retreat before the police and civil authorities were able to respond. The unrest is a type of modern urban guerrilla warfare.

How social networks operate

Work on how social networks operate reveals the importance of individuals known as network activators, who have skills at mobilizing the efforts within their social networks. Our studies began with evidence from entrepreneurs who seemed able to create localized gains in social capital resulting in personal and organisational innovations and change.

The concept of network activation can be extended to actions observed within the change processes occurring in the era of social media, whether these contexts are considered desirable or not.

Structural embeddedness

The suddenness of the escalation of the riots in London and elsewhere suggests that a trigger event can produce a cascade effect. Taking the historic perspective we may consider that that the conditions for change are contained (or structurally embedded) in localised conditions. This helps explain the reappearance of patterns of behaviours in the same geographical area.

In the era of social network sites

Texting, the use of mobile devices such as a Blackberry, and the development of social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, place the authories’ response to social disorder at a severe disadvantage. They are dealing with multi-focal events happening very quickly over a short period of time.

There are short-term steps to restoring social calm including technological fixes and more rapid and emphatic police action . However, understanding and addressing the underlying mechanisms of how such disorder arises and is sustained must also be a priority to achieving social stability and equity.

Notes:

Susan Moger is senior fellow in leadership at Manchester Business School. She has researched and written extensively about the processes of leadership, social networks and their activation. Her recent studies are to be published in the upcoming edition of the Handbook on the Knowledge Economy.

Image of Tottenham riot fire

Ironically, the first fatalities during the riots were from a hit and run driver. [Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir]. Haroon’s father Tariq Jahan became a powerful figure pleading for community restraint [Aug 11th].

See also Clifford Stott’s analysis challenging ‘the mindset of a mob mentality’


“For Sir Bobby (Charlton) and the Boss” 

May 25, 2011

Susan Moger

When Manchester United play Barcelona in the European Cup Final on May 30 2011 they do so in an atmosphere rich in memory and expectations. There are echoes of Henry 5th’s famous battle cry “God for Harry, England and St George”

Memory because Manchester United’s first victory in the competition occurred at Wembley in 1968 against Benfica. Bobby Charlton led a team managed by Sir Matt Busby, built with the core of players who had survived the Munich air crash of 1958. Expectations because a victory would give Sir Alex Ferguson his third European Championship, an achievement to crown his 19th title in the top flight of English football.

Will tension heighten performance?

What effect might this cauldron of tension, expectations and emotion have on the performance of the Manchester United players? The effect could heighten their state of arousal, a physiological state which releases energy and intensifies the drive to perform. In elite sport, the balance between a state of high intensity and composure is very delicate. In soccer, it takes composure to score a goal as the finish to a move, or to execute a tackle in the penalty area, where poor technique could result in a penalty and the dismissal of a player. To remain cool at moments of high intensity is frequently the difference between winning and losing.

Edwin’s last match

So how might the Manchester United players achieve that balance? Sir Alex Ferguson frequently plays tribute to the influence of his senior players on occasions such as these, in particular Edwin van der Sar, the goalkeeper. The final has added piquancy for van der Sar. It is his last competitive match for the club, and doubtless he would really like to leave Old Trafford with one more winner’s medal. Another player Sir Alex might turn to, Ryan Giggs, is recently embroiled in controversy and is the subject of intense media attention. It remains to seen how this will affect his, and the team’s performance.

The greatest team in the world?

As he leads his team to Wembley, Sir Alex will be acutely aware that Barcelona is a team seen by many as the best in the world. Will Pep Guardiola, tipped as his successor at Old Trafford, lead his team to a positive performance at Wembley? It would expunge memories of the hacking football on the pitch, and the thuggery off it, which characterised the first leg of the semi final against Real Madrid.

Retaining composure

Retaining composure in terms of the managers leading the teams and the players involved in the match may well be the key to success. As the players line up in the tunnel, might the rallying cry ‘For Sir Bobby and the Boss!’ help or hinder the players’ performance? They and the fans know and understand the significance of the match. Any post-match analysis cannot fail to take the emotional elements of the occasion into account.


The King’s Speech: Not a Film Review

February 26, 2011

Tudor Rickards

The King’s Speech is a fine film. What are its leadership messages for today?

This is not intended to be a film review. Rather, I want to reflect on the leadership messages in a tale of the trials and duties of a monarch dealing with his human frailty. Or, if you like, the dilemmas of everyman everywhere any time.

The story

The film itself has won widespread acclaim. It is expected to receive further accolades in the Oscars ceremonies this weekend [Feb 27th 2011]. In a nutshell, the story tells of Albert (‘Bertie’) the surviving youngest son of King George 5th. When George 5th died, Albert’s eldest son David ascended to the throne.

What follows is rather confusing, even for those familiar with the story. David briefly became King Edward 7th. This sort of name-changing and brand-tweeking was repeated when Albert replaced him and acquired the title King George 6th. King Albert was considered “too German” as someone said. And King David was too close the biblical King David for someone who would be anointed as defender of faith and secular head of the Church of England. The entire royal line rebranded itself The House of Windsor some years later to airbrush out signals of its Germanic ancestry.

Bertie’s background

The heart of the story is that Bertie was never considered up to being king, which didn’t matter because that was to be David’s job anyway. He was bullied quite a bit as a child, unconsciously on the part of King George, sneakily on the part of his older brother. This treatment is suggested to have triggered the stammer which played such a vital part in the story.

Edward was a bit of a wild thing, which used to an almost obligatory feature of the role of Prince of Wales, king in waiting. He was also rather popular with the masses, although this is glossed over in the film in order to get a better portrayal as a villain. He was rather a glamorous figure a la Blackadder officer class. No surprise then, that David becomes infatuated with a person with a past, a Mrs Wallis Simpson, played in the film as a Cruella deville figure.

King George dies. Hitler is rising to power in Europe. David becomes King Edward (still with me?) but constitutionally causes a lot of trouble by refusing to relegate Mrs Simpson to the substitute’s bench.

Courage and duty

There follows a display of what another recent remade film labelled as True Grit. Bertie is introduced to Lionel Logue, a speech guru and potential mentor. The clash of roles and class becomes central to the story. Logue demands an intimacy to provide technical success with the royal stammer. Various advances and setbacks occur. The audience cringes at the embarrassment of Bertie’s public performances. The leadership dilemmas are beginning to come into focus. We have a fine example of the courageous battle between duty and capability for Bertie. And between private and public obligations and passions for David/Edward

At least the dashing David/Edward had looked and sounded good in public. But the new king was determined in his demands. Duh! No Queen Wallis, no deal. Edward quits (abdicates if you like the technical term). Which of course leaves everyone including Bertie sensing all sorts of trouble ahead. And not just moonlight and dancing…

Meanwhile in Europe …

Meanwhile, events in Europe are not going well. Except for Hitler who seems to be doing very well indeed. The government in England eventually twigs that Hitler is about as amenable to friendly advances as Colonel Gadhafi proved seventy years later. Something has to be done. Change the Government.

The king’s battle

The increasingly important story-line is the painful battle of a suffering soul as Albert continues in his struggles to defeat his handicap adequately to fulfil his regal obligations. Concessions have to be made by King and commoner. The rights and obligations of the noble leader come into focus. The commoner pushes hard to claim rights of friendship and dismisses cherished symbolism of rights of monarch over subjects.

Leadership lessons

We see how art throws light on real-life problems. The dilemmas help us transmute the specific to the personal for beyond the story of the trials facing an anguished monarch who accepted the greatness thrust upon him.

Acknowledgements

[1] The author acknowledges the insights provided in discussion with Susan Moger for the dilemmas suggested in this post. Without her contributions, the text would have little substance beyond one person’s reactions to a considerable work of art.

[2] Image from Wikipedia


Toyota Fights to Preserve its Global Brand

February 4, 2010

Toyota faces its biggest crisis over a serious weakening of its reputation for quality control. How might creative leadership preserve its global brand?

Toyota has been hailed as the company of the future. This site has made no secret of its admiration for the company’s success. But events are now suggesting that the company has a lot of work to do in preserving its global brand. A year ago we wrote [Jan 2009] that Toyota’s business model was on trial:

Toyota is hurting, and Company chief Katsuaki Watanabe recently announced a projection for a first annual trading loss in its seventy year history. But Toyota’s pain still seems likely to be more sustainable than that being suffered by its rivals, whose fate is one of the urgent problems facing incoming President Obama, and who are pressing (begging?) for state bale-outs. For Chrysler, and GM, job losses are inevitable, while even survival in their present state seems increasingly unlikely. Its reaction to over-supply is to announced a temporary suspension of production for 11 days [Feb-March 2009] in all its 12 Japanese production units.

Now, [Jan 2010] Toyota is experiencing one of those crises which can rock a company to its core. Shares plummeted, as the company prepared to recall eight million vehicles globally because of problems with accelerator pedals on seven models.

At a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, [Feb 3rd 2010] US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood alarmed both investors and consumers with the advice, which he later retracted, that owners of a recalled Toyota should “stop driving it”.

The carmaker said it was not aware of any accidents resulting from the issue and that only 26 incidents involving accelerator pedals had been reported in Europe. Last year, Toyota was forced to recall about 5 million cars worldwide over problems with floor mats trapping pedals. END
Toyota’s UK spokesman Scott Brownlee denied that the firm had delayed the accelerator pedal recall in the UK, stating it was a quality rather than a safety issue.

The Perrier Story

The developing story, although potentially far more significant has echoes of the Perrier case.

This relates to the crisis faced by the Perrier brand in the late 1980s. John Mowen & Michael Minor in their text book on Consumer Behaviour explain what happened

Perrier Group of America announced a highly embarrassing product recall [February 9, 1990]. The recall came in response to a report stating that Perrier’s high-priced bottled water was contaminated with benzene. Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the benzene levels did not pose “a significant short-term health risk,” Perrier’s management requested the removal of the brand from supermarkets and restaurants in the United States and Canada.

The incident turned into a public relations disaster, in large part because the company’s explanation for the recall kept changing. After traces of benzene were found in Perrier bottles in other parts of the world, company officials altered their original explanation. Benzene, they now said, is naturally present in carbon dioxide (the gas that makes Perrier bubbly) and is normally filtered out before the water is bottled. For unknown reasons workers had inexplicably failed to change the filters. Meanwhile, Perrier still insisted that its famous spring in Vergeze, France was unpolluted. By 1995, Perrier sales had fallen to one-half their 1989 peak. The company had to mount a comeback strategy. While attempting to regain share for the Perrier brand through new distribution channels, the company began to invest in other brands that did not have the Perrier name attached to them. The question remains, however, will the memory of the benzene incident forever tarnish Perrier brand name?

Lessons for Toyota

In times of corporate crisis, Denial is still a likely response. What might Toyota do to avoid the dangers of permanent damage to its future as a brand? Can lessons be learned from the fate of Perrier? What steps might a creative leadership take?

Acknowledgement

With grateful thanks to Susan Moger for her insightful comments on this story.


Congratulations to Professor Petra

January 24, 2010

Petra de Weerd-Nederhof was inaugurated as Professor of Organisation Studies and Innovation at the University of Twente on 28th January 2010. Her inaugural address was entitled “Organising Innovation is an act of Balancing”

Leaders We Deserve adds its congratulations and best wishes to Petra for her contributions towards consolidating the international networks of scholars and practitioners engaged in the leadership of creative and innovative efforts.

The celebratory video was prepared by Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger, of Manchester Business School, founding editors of Creativity and Innovation Management journal. Petra and her colleague Olaf Fisscher at the University of Twente took over the journal in 2001, with a team from the School of Management and Governance at Twente.


Arkansas Hogs get Pre-season Leadership Training

September 6, 2009
Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino

An endorsement for leadership training comes from Arkansas Hogs football team after an initiative by Chief coach Bobby Petrino. The seminars were found to help overcome team ‘chemistry’ But will they bring it better results?

This leadership story was reported in the American Football press with more than a hint of astonishment.

After suffering through his first losing season in 2008, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino realized that a handful of players needed to be taught the proper way to lead a football team. That’s when he came up with idea for the Wednesday morning leadership seminars.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino volunteered to run the hour-long sessions over the summer, and more than a dozen players and assistant coaches followed along. They read a motivational book, studied chapters and talked about the qualities needed to be a leader.

“You always talk about (how) you’ve got to have leaders,” Paul Petrino said. “We just tried to work hard on teaching them how to be leaders.”

As odd as it sounds, the Razorbacks were looking for another way to build team chemistry, get more out of their veteran players and avoid the internal problems that contributed to a 5-7 season in 2008. The seminars helped.

“I think we got a lot out of it,” said Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette, who was among 14 Arkansas players who attended the weekly sessions. “You can never have too much leadership on a team, and that’s one thing (the coaches) were trying to promote, was leadership from within.”

Running back Michael Smith said the team has bought into Petrino’s philosophy, which wasn’t necessarily the case a year ago when some players took issue with the way things were being run by the new coach.

“There was a lot of complaining, a lot of guys disgruntled about things and not wanting to maybe go to work out or worried about a two-hour practice.. now, it comes second nature to us to know that we’re going to have a two-hour practice.”

Smith was among the players who spent an hour a week [on the leadership seminars which he believed ] brought the players together and created “a support system” for everyone else on the team.

“There were a lot of guys last year who may not have totally bought into the system. That’s not the case this year,” Smith said. “I think pretty much everybody has bought into the system, believes in it (and) knows that we can be successful in it.”

Bobby Petrino isn’t a coach necessarily known for being in touch with his feelings, but the leadership seminars were among the unconventional strategies he has used to shake things up following a disappointing 2008. He also took his assistants on a coaches’ retreat in late July [2009], giving them a chance to share ideas and philosophies.

“I think [the seminars] helped some guys become better leaders. I think it helped some guys become better followers,” Paul Petrino said. “Not everybody can be a leader, but it also taught them how to act and how to go out there and prepare ..it’s been a good thing. Our team chemistry right now is 100 times better.’

One step at a time

Leadership theorists Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger have argued for some time that poor team performance is associated with what Petrino calls bad chemistry, that is to say poor team dynamics. They have shown that poorly performing business teams (teams from hell) need to overcome personal differences before functioning efficiently. No surprise there. They also argue that this is only one of the barriers to overcome on the journey to outstanding team performance.

If their results from business teams apply to sporting teams, the Hogs may still have another barrier to overcome if they are to make progress. On the over hand, a bounce-back from a bad season may be the results of other factors. The case study will need to have a few more results filled in before conclusions can be reached on the effectiveness of their leadership seminars


David Bellion and Alex Ferguson’s leadership style

November 26, 2008

David Bellion remembers positively his time with Manchester United, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership style

The leadership story was covered in a BBC link sent me by Susan Moger (thanks, Susan).

He is remembered at Manchester United as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s least successful buys, and at West Ham he was so unwanted he “felt like a ghost”. But it is clear from talking to Bordeaux striker David Bellion ahead of Wednesday’s crunch Champions League match [that he remembers his time in England positively].

Bellion remains an avid watcher of Premier League football but there are few in this country who have followed his progress since he left United.

One notable exception, however, is United manager Ferguson, who sent him a letter telling him to “keep going” during his time at Nice and who has since phoned the forward to offer similar encouragement.
“Those are the kind of things that make a great manager and maybe a great man,” enthused Bellion, who still refers to Ferguson as his “gaffer”.
“He is class – a gentleman. To some coaches, when you leave their club you are gone completely but he looks out for all the players who have been with him.
“For me, to receive that letter after a small spell at United was a great honour for me. It maybe means nothing to him but it means a lot for me – he had not forgotten me.”

More than a hair-drier

Furguson is sterotyped as a successful manager famous for a ‘hair-drier’ almost bullying style. His leadership stle is obviously more complex than that.


Creative Leadership is Linked to Team Effectiveness

August 28, 2008

Researchers at Manchester Business School have established a clear link between effective leaders and their skills at encouraging creative change. They propose an explanation based on the introduction of benign structures which help shape team behaviours and innovative results

Since its inception in the 1960s, Manchester Business School has been engaged in applied studies into creativity and leadership. The School provides an unusual laboratory for studying leadership behaviours. Its approach, known as The Manchester Method, is one in which teams of business students engage with real-life business projects for an organizational client.

The Project Team Studies

Over the period 1980 to 2000, approximately 4500 participants, in 700 teams have been studied. From this work, a general principle of creative leadership emerged. Year after year, the tutors found three levels of project team performance, which they traced to a team’s leadership.

A small proportion of weak teams (‘teams from hell’) struggled to reach any effective result on the project. The majority of the teams (‘standard teams’) achieved the goals set them to the satisfaction of the client. Only a minority of teams performed beyond expectations (‘dream teams’).

What Constitutes a Dream team? Establishing Benign Structures for Change

Researchers Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger concluded that the dream teams they had observed were characterised by a capacity to go beyond the project brief in a creative way which added unexpected value for the client. They documented their findings in Handbook for Creative Team Leaders.

Later, the work was reported in several scholarly articles outlining the theory , and practical findings.

The key findings were summarized an article in The British Journal of Management

We propose that theories of project team development and of creativity can be integrated into a new conceptual framework. The framework proposes two structural barriers that bear on team performance, and modifies the well-established team development model of Tuckman. Creative leadership is suggested as an important means of breaching the barriers. Its differentiating feature seems to be its effectiveness in establishing protocols that sustain the creative efforts of team members. We have designated the protocols `benign structures’. Empirical evidence is provided from a range of studies of project teams in industrial settings.

Benign structures: An explanatory metaphor

A physiotherapist identifies that you have developed unhelpful ways of sitting in front of your computer. Your standard procedures can be improved. She suggests a series of procedures or rule you can follow to break old habits and develop ones that are more beneficial for your health.

She has introduced you to benign structures, which if you accept and follow will improve your future behaviour and health.

Benign Structures in Teams

In project teams, benign structures can again be thought of as procedures or rules introduced by the team leader. As with the structure provided by the physiotherapist, these also increase chances of improved performance and team climate or health.

How does a Leader Provide Benign Structures? The Two-Barrier Explanation

For many years, Organisational Behaviour texts describe a theory originally proposed by Bruce Tuckman, in which all teams develop progress through a series of stages labelled forming, storming, norming, and performing.

The Manchester researchers suggested a modification to this theory. They propose two barriers to team effectiveness. The first barrier defeats the poorest teams, probably at the storm stage of team development. Standard and dream teams progress beyond the first barrier but then the second barrier arrests progress of the majority of the residual teams.

The second barrier is at the norm stage of team development. Only by breaking out of its accepted norms is a team able to establish new norms. Then we have the conditions in which team is able to exceed the expectations of its corporate sponsor, but also its own assumptions about the project.

This modified theory has now been studied in Russia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and the United States as well as in the United Kingdom.

Leadership, team barriers, creativity, and benign structures appear to be a universal feature of effective leadership practices. The results have been found far beyond work in the business-school projects.

Benign Structures take a team ‘Out of the Box’

It has become a business cliché to describe creativity as out-of-the-box thinking. The cliché takes on more specific meaning if we relate it to the process whereby the dream teams successfully challenged their project briefs. Their creative outputs were novel, unexpected and yet relevant.

Development of Creative Team Leaders

The studies offer ways of developing creative leaders, and supporting the production of benign structures. Within the MBA courses, various possibilities for benign structures are introduced. These include a creative problem-solving approach developed from the well-known Parnes-Osborn treatment. Another structure draws on Edward de Bono’s celebrated Lateral thinking methods, including Six Thinking Hats .

Other ways of structuring creativity include ways of dealing with unconscious rejection mechanisms towards new ideas in teams. The team leader is sensitized to the importance of developing a positive ‘Yes And’ approach to replace a negative ‘Yes But’ one.

On-going Studies (1999-2008)

A long-running project now approaching its 10th year is tracking the progress of highly successful business leaders for their creative leadership characteristics. One of the findings is the identification of a process described as Network Activation.

Conclusion

In the past, creativity may have been considered distinct from the skills needed for success as a leader. This view is likely to be revised in the future, as leaders are recognised as achieving added-value through the introduction of creativity-supporting interventions (benign structures) which help groups overcome self-limiting assumptions, in a wide range of social and economic contexts.


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