The merit in supporting a creative environment

As leaders, we often have good intentions; however, I am sure I am not alone in finding myself getting sidetracked by the day-to-day froth which accompanies working for a lively university. Whilst time is so valuable (and seems to disappear so quickly) the importance of leadership focused on key areas such as creativity is, I believe, a major component towards success.

In my own organisation continuing one’s personal development is very much encouraged and I have always been a firm believer in the benefits of learning as this can also be a trigger

to enabling creativity. The very reason for this article is that I recently returned to study and one of my early assignments focused on leadership and creativity. Being a student again gave me the opportunity to firstly study but also be the customer, which in itself was an education.

As I worked through my assignment I began to realise, more than ever before, that it was creativity which appeared to be the key ingredient in bringing about change. I could at this stage start quoting theories and models; however, it is the link with leadership practice and creativity which I believe is the critical element. It is therefore important that each of us, as leaders, recognise the importance of creativity being a trigger for change and the consequence of this change being what ultimately sets us apart and can be the difference between success and failure.

The leader must create an environment that encourages both creativity and innovation in the workplace and this requires effective leadership and enlightened management. Creativity is the generation of an original idea, whereas innovation manages and develops those ideas which can be either related to products or services. I wonder how much time we in our leadership roles devote to encouraging creativity in the workplace and in particular with our most important resource - our staff. 

In today’s global environment, universities are even more reliant on creative leadership ensuring a profitable, competitive and sustained business. In understanding the challenges surrounding leadership it is important to explore theories but also realise that in practice leadership is highly dependent also on the situation and context. An example of this would be the globalisation of today’s business world, which has forced global leaders to be more creative in communicating more effectively across cultural and geographic boundaries and as many universities expand internationally we are forced to compete in this global marketplace. 

As CUBO members we are also fortunate to be involved with other international partnerships such as ACUHO-I, and this initiative is allowing our members the opportunity to observe and develop some new and creative ideas. By the time that this article is published the CUBO Conference and the Uliving CUBO Awards 2013 winners will be known. It will be interesting to find out how creative and innovative the winners have been in each category. In addition, the link to leadership in supporting these initiatives will, I am sure, have been a critical element to their success.