Positivity Breeds Creativity

By Iqbal Thokan

Positivity creates an optimistic environment. Breed positivity within your business and it will
bring about the creativity from all involved to help you stay relevant, survive and thrive.
Richard Branson once said, “If you take care of your employees, your employees will take
care of your customers, and your customers will take care of your shareholders”. And in
most businesses the shareholders are us, the business owner. Now while I have used this
quote before it still stands out as one of the most powerful business quotes I have come
across and shows that in order to truly thrive, as a business owner, as leader within our
business or organisation we have to lead with positivity and allow the creativity to come
from our people.

As business owners we start up a business with a vision of what or where we want it to be
and while initially we are able to do this on our own, as we grow we realise that we need
others to assist us to get to the destination we have envisioned.

A good leader gets people do things, a great leader inspires and motivates people to get
things done the right way and for the benefit of all. Giving an instruction is easy, getting
people to come up with creative ideas in order for our business to thrive takes skill and that
skill is quite simple, as the saying goes, positivity breeds positivity and as leaders in our
businesses, we need to be constantly breeding and breathing positivity.

While Branson’s leadership is quite democratic, there are many leadership styles (each with
its own pros and cons) for different situations, during this time of crisis we need to be able
to incorporate a style that allows the people within our businesses organisations to be
positive about the future and what we believe would be a good outcome. However, we also
need to be pragmatic and not create a false sense of hope but rather lead in way that allows
the people within our business to realise that we are all in it together. Never underestimate
the power of the individual and the potential of their ideas.

History has given us many valuable insights from various different business leaders across
various sectors and industries. While each of these business leaders have shown great skill
in starting up a business and achieving success, using leadership traits that were best suited
for their times, recently we have seen business success coming from business leaders and
businesses who show a trend towards people focused businesses.

In South Africa we have a saying, “local is lekker”, which can be roughly translated as local is
good or local is the best and today I would like to share a story of an inspiring South African
business leader who has shown that having the right positive culture within our business
can breed creativity and growth.

There was once a man who was convinced by his massage therapist that South Africa was in
need of a great branded beauty chain, and thus was born Sorbet. In 2005, Ian Fuhr
established South Africa’s first beauty chain store, and what was once mistaken as an ice-cream shop has now become the largest beauty franchise in Africa with over 200 salons and with a growing international footprint.

Ian attests the brands success to one thing, being peopled focused. Ian explains that “If you
focus on your people and create a working environment in which they feel nurtured, cared
for, content and inspired, they will motivate themselves to serve their customers to the best
of their ability”, and coupled with this is that he believes that it is the positive attitudes of
the people within his business environment that delivers extraordinary service to their
clients. Some of the things that Ian suggests business leaders should do to improve positivity
with the work environment are simple things like listening and caring and nurturing people
from the bottom up rather than driving a top down approach which is what makes people
feel like they are a part of something, which in turn makes them feel they have a vested
interest in its success as well.

Of course, coupled with this is another famous Richard Branson saying, “Train people well
enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t”, and this goes without
saying, share your success with your people, so that they stay committed, positive and
creative and in turn help you to stay relevant, survive and thrive.

Iqbal Thokan is an experienced business management consultant and the founder and co-
owner of breedingpositivity.com

New recruiters will often hear the phrase ‘positivity breeds success‘. But why is this quality so important, and how exactly does it help us at work? We take a look at this fascinating – and hugely powerful – quality, and the reasons for fostering it:

It is infectious:

When you feel positive and optimistic, it shines from you. People with great personalities and charisma are invariably positive people. By feeling good themselves, they naturally want others to feel good too, and will often go out of their way to help others to achieve their goals. When you think about it, a recruiter’s role is to support the client to achieve their recruitment goals – so the right attitude is key to selling your service, and making it compelling to potential leads.

It rubs off on others:

Positivity will help your colleagues and co-workers to feel better too, as they will take inspiration from your attitude and approach. This will be greatly valued by your managers and leadership team, as they see the powerful and supportive role that you play within the business.

It makes you stand out – for the right reasons:

Walk into a room with a big smile and the attitude that you are there to do a great service, help others and deliver, and you will instantly attract others to you. That energy, that positivity and a proactive approach generates, is highly compelling. Think about someone you know that radiates optimism, and compare them to someone you know that is pessimistic and negative. Who will you naturally go and speak to in a gathering?

It boosts your mood:

Our thoughts drive our emotions, and the power of positivity is that, by simply thinking about good things, we can greatly improve our moods, thoughts and actions. Remember, thoughts drive emotions – and thoughts also drive our actions. If we are thinking in the right way, we will act in the right way. Positive thinking expands our boundaries and sense of confidence and self. When we feel positive, we will naturally challenge ourselves to try out new things or take ‘good’ risks.

It boosts your creativity:

Positive thinking is naturally creative, mainly because it helps you to relax, feel good and think expansively about ways to tackle problems and opportunities, rather than convincing yourself that innovation or risk taking is fruitless, and that you are doomed from the start! That position of calm and openness can really help your creative juices to flow!

It helps you build relationships and draws others to you:

Most of the favourite people in our personal and professional lives tend to have a sparkle about them. They will focus on the good, look for the best in situations, and be generally optimistic and happy. These people draw others towards them with their positive energy, and by fostering a similar approach, you can develop equal successes in your relationships. Remember, positivity is contagious, and the more you practice it and tweak your way of thinking towards optimism, the greater the results.

It helps you to tackle difficult situations in the right way:

There are very few truly ‘right or wrong’ situations, in the way that there are few truly or entirely good or bad situations. The way we view something depends on our outlook and perspective. If you can find something good or positive in a difficult situation, you have cracked the secret to developing and learning as an individual. Only by reflecting on lessons learned, and then changing your approach, do you develop. Simply mulling over a bad outcome and doing nothing about it, will leave you stuck in your current position. Again, line up your thoughts in the right way, and the actions will flow. Another great tip is to view a difficult situation from the other person’s perspective, to gain insight and understanding about their position. This helps you to moderate your approach, and dissipates anger when you don’t get your own way. Learning techniques such as compromise and negotiation is also valuable, as is reflecting on the situation afterwards, and discussing alternative approaches it with an experienced mentor.

It helps you to achieve your goals:

For anyone who has ever read ‘The Secret’, the allure of positive and goal-oriented thinking is clear. The theory holds that like attracts like, so that positive thinking and focusing on your goals and the good things in life, will attract these to you. Likewise, focusing on bad situations and negative scenarios can attract those things towards you to – which is why people that we perceive as being lucky, are invariably optimistic and ‘glass half full’ people.

Positivity breeds the right behaviours:

Positive people will be the ones coming into work early with a smile on their face, enjoying conversation with their colleagues and looking forward to the day, before proactively cold calling, working on their social media presence, booking a full diary and generally making sure they get the most from each day, rather than thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Their attitude makes them bold and successful, simply because it removes fear and inertia. Positivity is always an active trait, and it engenders energy. Welcome it into your life, and you will constantly feel the benefits!


Credit: theundercoverrecruiter.com

Happy workers have a greater chance to be creative, according to Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile. Enhancing a positive workplace climate and encouraging creativity typically mean higher production and a better work product, especially in firms focused on innovation and the manufacture of new products and companies offering different and unusual services.

Seating Arrangements

Creative workplace endeavors require innovative seating arrangements. Although cubicles provide privacy and a working environment for personal tools and storage, a creative workstation rarely requires the staff member to stay seated within the walls of the cube. Positioning tables and chairs in an open forum, allowing staff to move to illuminate work under natural lighting and purchasing stools with wheels and tables with seating to facilitate group discussion all allow for a creative exchange of ideas. Firms wishing to stimulate innovation typically survey staff to determine the best seating arrangements to encourage innovation and creativity, according to the findings of the 10th Asia Office Space Congress.

Administrative Modeling

Corporate modeling plays an important role in setting the climate and the mood for creativity and a positive work environment. Supervisors who fail to exhibit the attributes of creative thinking and an active innovative model show the behavior perceived by the staff as the accepted corporate model of the organization. Management that also fails to support a positive workplace dooms any central administrative efforts to encourage positiveness. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” fails to encourage workplace innovations, according to a review of studies involving administrative modeling done by business researchers Susanne G. Scott and Reginald A. Bruce.

Reward Positiveness

Positiveness breeds positive attitudes in a work environment. A supportive work climate doesn’t guarantee prizes and rewards, but these go a long way in creating a positive workplace and elevating creativity. The Segal Group, a business research organization, found employees find cash incentives and recognition involving bonuses as a prime motivation for work. Other positive incentives outlined in the study include meaningful work, an opportunity for feedback, assignment of challenging work and a trusting work environment. Rewarding workers with extra time off from work also created a positive work environment, according to the study.

Incorporate Play

Psychologist Teresa Amabile outlines the four stages of creativity that include progress through preparation, incubation and illumination that leads to execution. Amabile maintains that allowing employees time for focused play facilitates the stages of incubation and illumination. Some companies interpret the concept of play in the general sense and allow staff to play video games during the workday, while other corporations, including Apple, focus employees on play with the company product to encourage innovation. Apple’s staff uses experiments with new hardware and software at work to improve the design and the application of the product before releasing the items to the public.


Credit: smallbusiness.chron.com

It doesn’t take long to find a link between Positive Psychology and creativity, and the body of research connecting well-being and creativity is constantly growing.

A quick look at the VIA framework reveals creativity to be one of its 24 signature strengths.

More specifically, creativity is one of the character strengths, along with curiosity, judgment, love of learning and perspective, which defines the virtue of wisdom and knowledge. In the VIA, creativity is seen as synonymous with originality and ingenuity and is defined as the ability to think of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and achieve goals.

Creativity can be viewed as a continuum, from practical creativity, which we are all likely to experience on a daily basis, to once-in-a-lifetime achievements, usually reserved for those with true mastery of their chosen field.

In Authentic Happiness, Seligman describes creativity as one aspect of a broader category of strengths including ingenuity, originality, practical intelligence and street smarts. In his words:

“When you are faced with something you want, are you outstanding at finding novel yet appropriate behavior to reach that goal?”
– Seligman, 2002, loc. 2375

This article will explore the value of creativity and how to incorporate it more into your daily life. Let us know in the comments section what you think or if you tried one of the creativity exercises here!

Conditions for Creativity

Creativity requires a certain state of mind. Barbara Fredrickson (2003) points out in her well-known broaden-and-build theory that an increase in positive emotions leads to a broader thought-action repertoire. This ultimately leads to more creative, flexible, integrative and open thinking patterns.

Research from the University of Western Ontario (Nadler et al, 2010) supports this theory. The results of the study showed that participants who listened to happy music or viewed funny clips were more likely to think innovatively and solve the problem at hand than those who were not exposed.

These findings suggest that we first need to create a positive environment conducive to creativity in order to see an increase in our flow of ideas and innovation.

Creativity and Positive Psychology

How might creativity lead us to increased well-being or flourishing? Using the context of positive psychology, three mechanisms play a role here:

  • The Authentic Self: those individuals who count creativity amongst their signature strengths derive a sense of authenticity, purpose, and meaning from exercising this strength, and find ways of bringing as much creativity as possible into their lives.

What shape or form this creativity takes depends on our personal “brand” of creativity; it may be artistic, cultural, inventive, scientific or any other kind of original activity.

  • Positive focus: Czikszentmihaly’s book “Creativity” is based on interviews with creative individuals from many walks of life and from varied careers. He found that creative outlets can harness otherwise destructive energy.

“Entertainment keeps chaos temporarily at bay, but the attention it absorbs gets wasted. On the other hand, when we learn to enjoy using our latent creative energy so that it generates its own internal force to keep concentration focused, we not only avoid depression but also increase the complexity of our capacities to relate to the world.”
– Czikszentmihalyi, 2007, loc. 5901

Finding the time to incorporate creative activities into your life can open your mind to new discoveries, which can lead you to new places and ways to engage with the world. Creativity, when harnessed, is beneficial for your well being, even if creativity is not necessarily one of your signature strengths.

  • Flow: When challenges closely match a person’s abilities, they can enter a state of flow. Flow is the feeling of complete immersion and loss of sense of time when merging actions with awareness. This is experienced by individuals across a range of activities from artistic pursuits to sports, music, science or invention.

Flow leads us to perceive an activity as enjoyable. In fact, according to Czikszentmihalyi (2007, loc. 1981):

“The process of discovery involved in creating something new appears to be one of the most enjoyable activities any human can be involved in.”

3 Exercises To Try Today To Boost Your Creativity

We have created a culture in which being right and doing things perfectly is highly valued. But as we try hard to be perfect, we miss out on the benefits of being wrong. In fact, many inventions have originated from mistakes.

Take Post-it notes, for instance. Spencer Silver failed to develop a super strong adhesive for 3M laboratories, but some years later Arthur Fry turned Silver’s mistake, a superglue that wouldn’t stick, into an innovative new product: an adhesive that sticks to objects but could be easily lifted off.

If only Silver was more aware of his potential for innovation and creativity! Ken Robinson claims that the reason we fail to be creative is that schools teach us to be right. We leave school in fear of being wrong, which suffocates creativity.

Knowing this, why not allow yourself to be wrong once in a while? Create a work culture that sees mistakes as a pathway to innovation and growth. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t go wrong?

Create Upward Spirals through Positive Emotions

Another way to increase your creative output is by making positive emotions a habit. Yes, it’s that simple!

Generally, most events we encounter are neither positive nor negative. They are neutral before we categorize them according to our “lens” (how we choose to see the world). American social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson found that if we choose to categorize more events as positive rather than neutral (such as a sunny day) and experience positive emotions, such as joy and appreciation, we experience an upward spiral of emotion. This changes our radius of awareness.

Fredrickson calls this the Broaden-And-Build theory (B. L. Fredrickson, 1998). Here is how Fredrickson explains her findings:

Fredrickson conducted randomized control studies and found that positive emotions change our view and even our peripheral vision. They open us and change our outlook on the environment and the way we approach tasks.

This is where creativity comes in. As our world expands, we become more flexible, innovative, and creative and are able to see solutions we would not normally see (B. Fredrickson, 2003).
Cultivating positive emotions is a great way to increase our creative output.

One of the most effective exercises to create long-lasting upward spirals is a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes every evening and write down three good things which happened to you today.

Initially, you may find it difficult to find three positive situations each day, but as you continue to screen your day for positivity, you become more aware of the many little things which categorize as either neutral or positive.

Practice Mindfulness

Are you still reading about mindfulness, thinking that one day you will incorporate it into your daily life?

Well, if benefits such as improvements in physical and mental health and well-being have not yet convinced you, the prospect of increased creativity is one more reason to incorporate mindfulness meditation into your busy lifestyle.

Let’s face it: creativity takes time. But our mind can be a tad impatient when it comes to producing solutions, right? Negative self-talk along the lines of, “You are so not creative! What a pathetic effort!” can be a real barrier for creativity.

Practicing mindfulness has been found to increase self-compassion (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004).

Mindfulness is a state of relaxed but alert attention to the present. As we observe our emotions and thoughts in an open, non-judgemental way, we distance ourselves from negative self-talk, and we make room for the experience of the moment.

Practicing mindfulness regularly allows us to enjoy the process of being creative rather than just focusing on the desired end result.

Not sure where to start? Check out our extensive list of Mindfulness Exercises or simply download a Mindfulness App. To make it simple for you to get started right away, here is an action plan, effective today:

  1. Accept mistakes! Starting today, realize their potential for growth and innovation
  2. Keep a gratitude journal and make time to write down three good things every day
  3. Take thirty minutes each day to meditate

A Take-Home Message

No matter which way you express your creative potential, there is much benefit to your health and well-being. Creativity starts with an encouraging environment and grows from opportunities where your innovative and original perspective is challenged. Find your flow, live your authentic self and welcome well-being and flourishing into your life.

“Even though personal creativity may not lead to fame and fortune, it can do something that from the individuals’ point of view is even more important: make day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.”
– Czikszentmihalyi, 2007, loc. 5817


Credit: positivepsychology.com

Finding the effective leadership style that works best for you and your team may bring your business one step closer to success.

Being an effective leader is one essential part of running a successful business. But there isn’t just one right way to be a great leader. You can choose and develop a leadership style that works for you, your team and your business goals. Below are some established effective leadership styles and tips to help you form your own leadership style.

Transformational Leadership

One type of effective leadership style is transformational leadership. Transformational leaders work with the goal of transforming their teams and organizations so that they’re constantly improving. They create a vision of the future that they share with their teams so that everyone can work together toward that shared goal and vision. Transformational leaders are also often seen as authentic, self-aware and empathetic. In addition, they handle conflict among team members well and hold both themselves and their team members accountable.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leaders include their team members in their decision-making process. While they are ultimately responsible for making final decisions, they often ask team members what they think and try to take their thoughts and opinions into account. This can help increase engagement among team members, but it may not always be the best style for leaders who need to make quick decisions.

Autocratic Leadership

On the other end of the effective leadership styles spectrum, autocratic leaders make all decisions on their own without consulting with team members. This can be a good system for making quick decisions. However, it can make team members feel out of touch or dissatisfied with their working environment if they don’t feel like their opinions or ideas are ever considered in those important decisions.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Leaders who practice this style are known for giving their team members a lot of freedom. They provide support and resources for team members when it’s necessary, but they don’t constantly micromanage employees. This can be an effective leadership style if you have a lot of trust among your team members and you know that they do good work and manage their time well on their own. However, if you’re working with newer team members or those who need more guidance or time-management help, it may not be as effective.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders are all about rules. They may set strict procedures that they follow precisely, and they expect their team to do the same. This usually isn’t the best leadership style for businesses or teams that rely on innovation or creative problem solving. In those instances, you may want people to have a little more freedom to think outside the box and not follow the exact same procedures from day to day. But for more routine-oriented jobs, this leadership style could be a good fit. In those situations, many workers could appreciate having a very cut and dry set of rules and procedures to follow so that they aren’t left guessing about what you expect from them.

Servant Leadership

Servant leaders work hard to meet the needs of their team. They’re often seen as charismatic and generous. This often leads to high worker satisfaction rates since team members feel heard and cared for in their work. It can also be beneficial in a working environment where you want everyone to see themselves as equals who are working together or collaborating on an even playing ground, rather than focusing on who is in charge of whom. However, it may not be a great model for someone who needs to make quick or difficult decisions, since servant leaders might try too hard to make workers happy rather than focusing on what’s actually best for the organization or team as a whole.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership focuses on the idea that accepting a job is a sort of transaction. By agreeing to take a job, workers have accepted that they have to complete the outlined task and follow their leader’s instructions. This style can work in situations where you need to clearly outline a difficult job or task before choosing someone to take on the role. It may also help ensure that everyone is very clear about what is expected of them. However, it can seem cold or inflexible, which may lead to low job satisfaction.

Finding Effective Leadership Styles That May Work for You

To decide which one of the effective leadership styles may be right for you, you may want to consider a few different factors.

First, which style is the best fit for your business and its mission? If you rely on your workers to be creative and come up with unique solutions, you probably don’t want to go with a bureaucratic style that strictly outlines the procedures everyone needs to follow. But a laissez-faire style might actually work well for that situation if your team members come up with great ideas when given the freedom to do so.

You may also want to consider your own style and goals and those of your team members. If you know that your team members work well when they’re given very specific instruction, but not so well when left up to their own devices, then you might not want to go the route of laissez-faire leadership. And if you know that you have strong instincts and opinions about how every decision should be made, then you probably don’t want to go with a democratic leadership model.

It’s also possible to make each leadership style your own by infusing your values and personality. So if, for example, you choose to lead in a fairly autocratic style because the nature of your business means you have to make a lot of quick decisions, you can still be open and honest with your team members about your decisions and how you make them. This may make them feel more engaged and even give you more insights about what factors you might want to consider for future decisions. There isn’t one style that works perfectly in every situation. But if you come up with a style that’s suited to your business and your team, you could be well on your way to leading a successful team.


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Cape Town – Compared globally, South African execs are moving faster to encourage creative behaviours and “disruptive processes” to drive innovation.

This finding was announced by GE on Tuesday when they unveiled the South African results of the 2014 Global Innovation Barometer.

Tim Schweikert, president and CEO of GE South Africa and transportation for Sub-Saharan Africa, told Fin24 that innovation drives economic growth and has the potential to raise the standard of living and addressing some of societies greatest challenges.

“Executives are recognising that we all need to adapt and change and innovate, which is really the only way they can stay relevant,” he said.

Global Innovation Barometer

Now in its fourth edition and spanning 26 countries, the GE Global Innovation Barometer is an international opinion survey of senior business executives actively engaged in the management of their firm’s innovation strategy. The barometer explores how the perception of innovation is changing in a complex, globalised environment.

The 2014 results show that South African executives have an overwhelmingly positive perception of the role innovation plays in society with more than three-quarters of respondents agreeing that people in the country live better than 10 years ago because of the impact of innovation.

“South Africa has long been known as a hotbed of innovation, from the invention of the world’s first oil-from-coal refinery to the first heart transplant,” said Schweikert. “Lately, a renewed focus has been placed on inspiring and supporting innovation across the country.”

Collaboration for innovation

Nearly all (96%) of executives in South Africa agreed that innovation was increasingly becoming a global game, merging and combining talents, ideas, insights and resources across the world is the only way to be successfully innovative.

“While there are obvious risks to collaboration, more than three-quarters of executives say that collaborating is a risk worth taking if you want to successfully innovate nowadays,” GE said. “As a result, most executives report that revenue generated by collaborative innovation activities has been growing over the last year, though there is still a call to reinforce IP to protect the product of innovative collaboration.”

Some of the findings included

– More than three-quarters (78%) of executives said that collaborating with external business partners was a risk worth taking if you wanedt to successfully innovate nowadays
– 65% of executives reported that revenue generated by collaborative innovation activities had grown over the last year
– 81% of South African executives though we needed to encourage the collaboration of private companies with state-owned enterprises (SOEs)
– 82% of South African executives though that SA needed to reinforce IP to encourage stronger collaboration between companies

Creating a framework for innovation

The barometer showed that executives were divided on how to inspire innovation, as 51% believed that the most successful innovations were planned and driven through a structured process. The other 49% thought innovation emerged spontaneously through the interactions of creative individuals.

This differed from the global average that saw 62% of executives looking to structured programmes to provide innovation.

Other points included:

–  69% of executives in South Africa recognised the need for companies to encourage creative behaviours and disruptive processes in the business in order to be able to innovate successfully
– 76% said it was best to position innovative teams and activities inside the existing lines of businesses and structured teams – above the global average of 68%
–  40% of local executives agreed that SA developed a framework conducive to innovation – up seven points since 2013

Big impact of big data

South African executives saw big data as the silver bullet of innovation.

The vast majority of South African executives believed that big data was critical to understanding customers and anticipating market evolution.

While almost two thirds of business leaders in South Africa believed that it was critical to use the “predictive knowledge” gained from the analysis of big data to innovate successfully, South African executives are well above the global average in believing that they are ready to make the most out of big data.

Other points around big data included:

–  42% of executives in South Africa reported that their company was either totally or quite prepared to make the most out of big data – well above the global average of 25%
–  Nearly half (47%) believed the industrial internet would have a positive impact on the job market
–  More than half (53%) of SA execs said big data was critical to optimise the operational efficiency of all types of businesses, while an additional 23% believed this was true for only certain types of businesses.

Challenges ahead

While South African executives were exceedingly positive about the role of innovation in moving the country forward, they also highlight challenges.

In addition to regulatory hurdles, business leaders highlighted a lack of talent, global scale up and investment as key issues that are limiting innovation.

–  32% of executives identify a lack of talent as limiting innovation – above the global average (22%)
–  28% cite incapacity to scale up successful innovations to a wider or international market
–  26% cite a lack of investment and financial support.


Credit: www.news24.com

Henley is an education partner at this year’s Innovation Summit and is the only business school to take such a role. This is how strongly we believe in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

For the first two days of the summit we will be getting insights from the industry, the private sector, educational institutions and chief executives, as well as the government’s perspective on innovation and creativity. There will be well-rounded panel discussions, talks and keynotes including international representation.

Henley, as the education partner, will be hosting the Learning Space, which will include reports covering key insights from the event. This, we believe, will provide a rich platform for the exchange of ideas in order to birth new insights and new ways of working that will hopefully impact business and even the economy of South Africa.

It is exciting for us to play this key role as an innovation partner. On Saturday September 24, we will be hosting sessions involving playing with Lego, where the bricks will be used by corporate people to express themselves and their creativity.

We do similar workshops at Henley and have seen magnificent results. Recently we did a workshop where we had corporate ladies using Lego to imagine their future 20 years from now. This took their creativity to levels that previously they never thought possible.

This is the basis of Henley’s creative thinking strategy for business. The workshop helped these ladies create a new vision for their life, which can also be applied to business. Henley believes that creativity involves doing, and it is for this reason we are running these workshops at the Innovation Summit.

As an educational partner, we will be co-hosting an event called Ignite on Friday September 23 at 3pm where creative people will share their personal creativity principles. Business people will each share for 10 minutes on how they use creativity at work.

We deeply believe in developing the creative acumen of businesspeople as much as the business acumen of creative people. We believe that as a result of the Innovation Summit a cross-pollination between business people and creative people will emerge, facilitating new ways of doing business and hopefully new ways of monetising natural creative talents. Our focus is to develop creativity or creative attributes in business people.

The theme of the Summit is “Ignite, Accelerate, Innovate”. Henley brings to this the creativity aspect. According to a World Economic Forum report, creativity will move from being in 10th position in the top 10 skills in 2015 to third in 2020. This is not surprising.

The world around us demands that we look for meaning, purpose and passion — everything that the education system is not constructed upon. Organisations, governments, institutions and societies are not built on this crucial foundation, yet the world yearns for it.

The question is: how do we rethink industries, redefine work, rebuild confidence, recover and reignite the innate creativity we all possess? More importantly, how do you utilise this creativity to inspire your people and improve your organisation?

It is important to improve people’s abilities to deliberately use creativity and innovation. Encourage new ideas, imagination, new decisions and new actions, and inspire people to believe they can become creative and use creativity.

There are some practical ways businesses and organisations can release employees’ creativity through innovative activities to boost morale and engagement.

One way to do this is to bring people together around a shared need and value for creativity and innovation. We need to support people in using positive visions of the future as fuel for creative innovation and familiarise people with the creative process.

Picasso once said, “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up”. As children, our world is made of stories, pictures and colour, but as we grow up this seems to dissipate. When we allow ourselves to explore, play and defer judgment, the creativity in us is awakened as we engage in work, projects and relating to one another.

We become comfortable with ambiguity and maintain the child-like curiosity that keeps us seeking the second right answer. Creativity allows us to remain in this space long enough to come up with ideas that are new to the world — what others call third-level thinking.

Creativity in business is integral to the future growth of South African managers. But most businesses remain reluctant to be creative for fear of failure. But for those who do, the potential exists to create business growth and enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

There is a change in the business world where creativity is being used not only for marketing but also in addressing business challenges. New, creative ways of working are being implemented and encouraged.

At Henley, we encourage students to think outside of traditional management styles. We find that allowing staff to be creative, even in the small areas of their responsibility, increases productivity, affects the company’s bottom line and can also provide a competitive advantage.


Credit: mg.co.za

Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.   More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns;  knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes.   The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers.  Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.

Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.   No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money.   In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.

If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.

8.  Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent

Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand.

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel

Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination

Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12.  Positive Energy & Attitude

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher

Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships

Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.

In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these 15 things ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organization’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results.


Credit: www.forbes.com

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