Expanding your creativity can be an asset to your leadership toolbox

Why is creativity important to leadership? How can you develop these skills?

There are many facets to leadership as a skill, and therefore many ways to improve your skills. Michigan 4-H has many opportunities for practicing and improving leadership skills, from working on your own personal leadership goals or becoming an officer or teen leader in your club, to attending events such as Capitol Experience or the 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular. One aspect of leadership that is not talked about as often is creativity. How is creativity important to leadership and how can we improve these skills?

Creativity can be very significant to a leader and the way they work with their club or committee. Facilitating a group to think “outside the box” can help a group achieve their goals. A leader who is creative will be able to think of innovative solutions to challenges facing a club or community. A creative leader can also infuse fresh ideas into traditional events.

Similar to leadership skills such as learning how to speak in front of a group or using parliamentary procedure, creativity can be practiced and improved. Being intentional about learning experiences and finding opportunities to practice this skill can help teen leaders in their journey.

Here are some ideas for developing your creative side.

  • Try out different facilitation tools with your group, such as mind mapping or a sticky wall. When you try a new way of working with a group, you and your group are thinking in a new way.
  • Don’t be afraid to take some time to think through a situation. Sometimes, teen leaders feel the pressure to know all the answers right away, but setting aside time for your brain to reflect will allow your creativity to percolate and develop.
  • Lead your group in guided reflections, such as W3 from Liberating Structures or revisiting the mission statement or goals and objectives.
  • Do something brand-new with your group. Take a field trip to someplace unfamiliar, try out a totally different kind of fundraiser or explore a new project area.
  • Don’t be discouraged if attempts at new creative ideas don’t work right away. Just because a different fundraiser didn’t raise as much money doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful, or just because members don’t place where they wanted in a new project area doesn’t mean they didn’t learn anything. Help a group reflect on what they did learn and like about the creative endeavor, and how they can continue to build on their experiences in the future.
  • Look for opportunities to learn more about creativity. Attend workshops that help you grow in new ways, such as the 4-H Spectacular or the 4-H Creative Arts Celebration at the Kettunen Center. Be curious about your own creativity and how you can advance your skills.

Once you start developing your own skills, you will start to see more and more applications for situations where you can exercise your creativity. A good leader will also look for ways to develop these skills in others.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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