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Focusing the Creative Leader

A creative leader is a fount of ideas. This is of great value to an organization. But if followers attempt to indiscriminately implement all of a prolific leader’s ideas, focus will be lost and the leader and organization may become exhausted.

If the leader’s ideas completely fill the group’s agenda there will be no room for followers to contribute their own creativity. It is a critical function of courageous followership to evaluate the flow of ideas from a leader and to determine which have the greatest potential for forwarding the common purpose. Criteria should be established for evaluating ideas and opportunities. The criteria may include:

Does this idea forward our core mission?

How large is the potential payoff for our stakeholders?

Will it drain resources from higher payoff activities?

Does it make the best use of our strengths and talents?

Will it leave us in a stronger position to fulfill our purpose?

Does it have serious downsides or entail unacceptable risks?

A process is needed to select the ideas that are real gems. We should energetically implement these and demonstrate to the leader how implementing the numerous other ideas will detract from the gems. If the leader is usually respectful of the evaluation process, but convinced a particular idea should be pursued despite the tradeoffs, courageous followers support her unless the risks are overwhelming. Creative intuition cannot always be subordinated to analytical processes.