Creativity and Innovation for Effective Leadership

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Creative Leadership

Despite the fact that creativity seems to be an abstract concept, it has a well-structured model that can be applied to organizations. The model presented by DuBrin (2016) consists of five consecutive steps such as opportunity or problem recognition, immersion, incubation, insights, and verification and application (DuBrin, 2016). Creative leadership involves creativity as an integral characteristic of a leader. According to DuBrin (2016), creative leaders “are devoted to their fields and enjoy intellectual stimulation, and they challenge the status quo, which leads them to seek improvements” (p. 347). The major four groups of characteristics typical of creative leaders include knowledge, cognitive abilities, personality, and passion for the task and experience of flow (DuBrin, 2016).

As for knowledge, it provides the background for ideas, their generation and combination. Also, knowledge adds to charisma of an individual. A perfect example of a creative leader is Steve Jobs, who was involved in design and marketing processes of the majority of Apple’s products (DuBrin, 2016). Thus, creativity is closely related to knowledge and determines innovation. Creative leaders produce many ideas and some inevitable failures do not discourage them.

Cognitive abilities of a creative leader include general intelligence and abstract reasoning. Frequently, creative people preserve a youthful curiosity, which is not limited to the major field of their interests. This feature contributes to a broader outlook thus stimulating creative decisions. Typically, creative leaders generate more than one alternative solution to any problem (DuBirk, 2016). Despite this fact, they are usually able to select the best solution beneficial for a specific situation.

Personality implies the non-cognitive aspects of a creative leader. Creative people demonstrate a tendency to having a positive self-image. At the same time, they are not blindly self-confident (DuBirk, 2016). Due to their positive self-perception, creative individuals successfully manage the criticism of their ideas without losing enthusiasm. They prefer being among people to find inspiration for creative ideas, but need isolation to concentrate and develop creative solutions. Also, creative individuals usually do not need approval from the others and can be described as nonconformists.

Passion for the task and experience of flow is the last typical feature of creative individuals. Passion for work is closely related to the personality. In fact, research proves that creativity is guided by an intrinsic principle (DuBrin, 2016). Thus, creative people are most successful when they are motivated “by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself” without external pressures (DuBrin, 2016, p. 350). The experience of flow, it turn, presupposes intense concentration and absorption in the work. It means that creative individuals manage to perform the tasks disregarding the external consequences.

Interrelation of Innovation and Creativity and their Impact on Leadership Effectiveness

On the one hand, creativity and innovation are different concepts. Creativity implies generation of new and novel ideas. In turn, innovation is the application of a developed idea. In fact, innovation can be defined as applied creativity. While creativity is an imaginative process, innovation presupposes production. At the same time, both concepts are closely related. Creativity and innovation are considered vital to the successful performance of organizations. Anderson, Potočnik, and Zhou (2014) suggest an integrative definition for these two concepts that focuses on their interrelation. Thus, creativity and innovation at work “are the process, outcomes, and products of attempts to develop and introduce new and improved ways of doing things” (Anderson, 2014, p. 1298). The authors claim that creativity stage implies generation of ideas while innovation is the next stage of putting ideas into action. Both stages are expected to lead to improved procedures, practices, or products (Andersen et al., 2014). Another important aspect is division into levels. Thus, both creativity and innovation are found at the individual, work team, and organization levels. Moreover, they can exist at more than one level inside the organization. Still, any level or their combination provide better outcomes for a company.

Creativity and innovation are closely related. It is generally considered that creativity stimulated innovative processes (Sarooghi, Libaers, & Burkemper, 2015). Still, there is not enough evidence to prove the development of creative ideas into innovations. Still, the study by Sarooghi et al. (2015) provides findings that support the ideas of correlation between creativity and innovation. For example, this correlation is strong at an individual level, which means that individual creative employees are more successful than teams. This finding suggests that creative leaders need more space for their activity and less control to stay productive. The aspect of interactions at different levels is also discovered by Černe, Jaklič, and Škerlava (2013). The researchers attempt research to investigate “a multilevel model of cross-level interactions between authentic leadership and innovation at the team level, and perception of support for innovation and creativity at the individual level” (Černe et al., 2013, p. 63). The study findings demonstrate the direct impact of authentic leadership by perceived team leaders’ on individual creativity of team members’ and team innovation as a whole. At the same time, the influence of “self-ascribed team leaders’ authentic leadership” was not meaningful (Černe et al., 2013, p. 73). Moreover, the researchers reveal a connection between the perception of support for innovation and team leaders’ authenticity.

Leadership style that implies creativity is important for the process of organizational change. Lutz Allen, Smith, and Da Silva (2013) in their study claim that creativity within an organization is encouraged by the environment within which companies are functioning. This environment is constantly changing and becomes highly competitive still preserving an organizational climate. The researchers have discovered the relationship between leadership style, staff perceptions of the psychological climate, and readiness for organizational change as well as psychological climate and organizational creativity. Lutz Allen et al. (2013) conclude that readiness for organizational change and organizational creativity depends on the type of leadership applied in an organization. Thus, the study proves that transformational leaders are those who have the most positive impact on the psychological climate for organizational change readiness and organizational creativity. Still, this research included a limited number of leadership styles.

Jaiswal and Dhar (2015) also dedicate their research to the issue of transformational leadership as related to innovative climate of a company as well as creative self-efficacy and creativity of employees. The researchers come to a conclusion that transformational leadership has impact on employee creativity. One of the research hypotheses involved the positive influence of innovative climate on employee creativity. Also, the study discovered a relation of innovation climate and creative self-efficacy to employee creativity. While innovation climate proved to have the mediating role, creative self-efficacy appeared to be a moderator for employee creativity. Finally, the study findings support the idea that employees with high creative-self-efficacy demonstrate creative behavior in conditions of supportive innovation climate provided by organization leaders.

On the whole, creativity is crucial for business still, it was not in the focus of managers and leaders until recently. It gave rise to the concept of creative leadership, which stimulates leaders to demonstrate inventive and imaginative qualities and search for them in employees. At the same time, innovation demands a specific approach. It can be achieved in small steps that an organization makes through gradual implementation of creative ideas. As for innovation leadership, it is a particular philosophy that implies a mixture of diverse leadership styles. Its task is to inspire employees to develop creative ideas, services, and products. Innovation and creative leadership presupposes close interaction with employees supporting both individual and team work for greater efficiency.


Effective leadership, creativity, and innovation are closely related and influence one another. While creativity and innovation contribute to leadership efficiency, some aspects of effective leadership have a potential to foster creativity and innovation in business. For creative individuals, motivation is crucial. Novel solutions are more likely to be produced by inspired and motivated employees. Therefore, an effective leader should create an environment suitable for creative individuals and provide stimulating conditions. To achieve this, an individual approach to employees is necessary. It is a task of a leader to create company values and culture as well as to stimulate change and provide employee motivation. It is important to remember that creative workers demand a specific managing approaches and methods. For example, they need good supply such as the necessary tools and resources to function successfully. Also, creative individuals need flexible environment not overloaded by structural aspects. Therefore, the following recommendations can be formulated.

  • Innovation and creativity should be included as company values.
  • Companies are recommended to adopt innovative and creative leadership to make them integral to companies’ policies.
  • HR departments should be aware of the company’s policies and focus on hiring creative employees able to develop ideas beneficial for a company
  • Leaders should know the peculiarities of creative employees and develop environments that stimulate and motivate these workers.
  • It is necessary to organize work in teams as well as individual projects because in different conditions, creative employees come to different results.
  • Leaders should be aware that innovation is not a one-day process and should be implemented gradually, step by step, to provide better perception of changes in an organization.
  • It is important to select the creative ideas that are to be implemented not only by the degree of creativity, but by the potential innovative benefits for a company that they are expected to bring.


Summarizing, it should be mentioned that success of an organization depends on the way it manages its potential including employees. To be innovative, competitive, and successful, an organization should effectively apply creativity of its staff. It can be achieved through discovery of the company’s leadership abilities and hiring creative individuals. Also, one of the ways to create an innovative and effective company is to accept a suitable leadership style and manage the personnel depending on qualities of every individual. Another important feature of a successful leader focused on creativity and innovation is flexibility because different leadership styles can be more beneficial in different situations and diverse creative ideas can be applied to a number of practical situations contributing to company’s innovation.


Anderson, N., Potočnik, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations. Journal of Management, 40(5), 1297-1333. Web.

Černe, M., Jaklič, M., & Škerlavaj, M. (2013). Authentic leadership, creativity, and innovation: A multilevel perspective. Leadership, 9(1), 63-85. Web.

DuBrin, A. J. (2016). Leadership: Research findings, practice, and skills (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Jaiswal, N., & Dhar, R. (2015). Transformational leadership, innovation climate, creative self-efficacy and employee creativity: A multilevel study. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 51, 30-41. Web.

Lutz Allen, S., Smith, J., & Da Silva, N. (2013). Leadership style in relation to organizational change and organizational creativity: Perceptions from nonprofit organizational members. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 24(1), 23-42. Web.

Sarooghi, H., Libaers, D., & Burkemper, A. (2015). Examining the relationship between creativity and innovation: A meta-analysis of organizational, cultural, and environmental factors. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(5), 714-731. Web.

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