Developing creativity Defining creativity isn’t easy,primarily because it depends on the context and the form or forms of creativity being enacted or represented.As something we intrinsically experience or respond to,any attempt at a definition will be inadequate.Creativity evokes an emotional response in those who experience it or engage in it.Therefore we tend to know it when we see or feel it.Creativity is unlikely to be captured or evaluated through checklists or tick boxes.It is contextually located and will be judged in different ways by different people.What you see inevitably depends on where you stand.One person’s creativity can be viewed by another as foolishness,recklessness or insanity.How you judge creativity depends on your particular and unique perspective on the world. Although defining creativity may be a challenge there are identifiable dimensions of creative practice.John West Burnham (2008) suggests that it might be appropriate to define creativity in terms of: the use of imagination,insight and originality; the development of a different product, process or outcome; the addition of value to an existing product or process; the use of higher order skills,knowledge and qualities; the potential to make a difference,to improve,enhance or enrich. However creativity is defined or understood,the need to develop creative leaders is more pressing than ever before.There is a crisis in leadership succession in many parts of the public and private sector and schools are not immune.For example,over half the head teachers in England are aged 50 or over.There is a ticking time bomb of leadership succession.
Creative leadership in action Leadership is primarily about influence and change.Creative leaders recognise the need to influence others so that talent can be released and maximised.This cannot be done in a manipulative way,as creativity can only really flourish where the formal leadership authentically and genuinely reflects a desire for the many rather than the few to excel.Such leaders have a strong set of core values which are nonnegotiable.They have a vision for their work or their organisation that is premised upon a clear and consistent moral,social or ethical purpose (West-Burnham,2008). Creative leaders set the tone,climate and conditions where creativity can thrive (Stoll, 2007,2008).This means removing structural and cultural barriers that actively prevent people from working together,learning from each other and equipping each other to be creative through interaction and dialogue.This means that leadership can emanate from those without formal title or role and that creativity is a by-product of professional collaboration, dialogue and disagreement. Those in formal leadership can release or suppress creativity.Organisational cultures, structures and climates vary.Those in formal leadership roles influence and shape school cultures,structures and climates for good or ill. Not everyone wants to encourage creativity. Creativity can be seen as a distraction,an irritation,a detour from a well thought-out and carefully conceived plan.One of the greatest threats to creativity is conformist leadership practice in our schools. Another threat to creative thought,action and practice is selfish individualism where exceptional individual performance is rewarded.You only have to watch one episode of the The Apprenticeto know that selfish individualism is alive and well.Yet ironically,it is this selfish individualism that is least likely to be needed or rewarded in the future.Recent research has highlighted that the most important leadership skills for organisational success in the next few decades include ‘collaboration across boundaries’,and the ability to ‘build effective teams’ (Martin,2007). So here we have the paradox.If creativity is a by product of interaction,inter-dependence and dissonance,many of our contemporary organisations are simply not fit for purpose.They function on position rather than process, competition rather than collaboration and independence rather than interdependence.Many of our organisations,including schools,are futureproofed to resist rather than to embrace creative thinking and are unconsciously crushing creative potential.
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