Leaders can stifle creativity by trying to dominate every room they’re in, being judgmental or turning group meetings into “creativity-on-demand” sessions, writes Art Petty. “The social and power pressures are so brutal here that many opt to remain quiet versus take the perceived risk of offering ideas or asking questions,” Petty writes.



Creativity—the ability to look at complicated situations and identify novel solutions that solve problems, advance initiatives, or rewrite old rules—may be the most critical skill of all in our workplaces. As leaders, we need to foster it, stimulate it, and do everything we can to ensure we’re not the ones suppressing it.

Sadly, creativity is something that many leaders trample all over in their daily activities.Are you giving your colleagues a chance to be creative, or are you suppressing it with your approaches?

Seven Questions to Ask and Answer About Your Leadership Behaviors
Consider the following questions:

1. Are you stifling or stimulating creativity with your words?

Your negative framing of a situation: “This is a problem” generates one set of outcomes versus, “This happened. How can we leverage it?”

Stimulate creative solution development by adopting a neutral framing and teaching and guiding your team members to develop multiple solutions by framing things as positive, negative, and neutral. It’s much more compelling to choose from numerous solution sets versus one that is powerfully skewed by your words.


2. Are you reinforcing or suppressing creativity through your actions?

The classic example of the leader who declares, “We value experimentation and learn from our mistakes,” rings hollow when the first person to experiment and fail is chastised, disciplined, or terminated.Guess what’s never happening again?


3. Are you perceived as judgmental in your interactions?

Some in leadership roles falsely believe they’re in their roles to pass judgment on the ideas of others versus stimulate ideas. This behavior triggers defend mode type responses where individuals strive not to invite criticism. Instead, they tell the leader what they perceive will minimize risk.