We are living in a world that is increasingly uncertain, volatile, and complex. As leaders, we need more than just problem-solving skills to lead our teams through these times. We must find ways to cultivate the ability to navigate through complexity and uncertainty. We must also cultivate creativity that can help us lead people creatively out of these situations.
I will start by providing a bit of personal background, be vulnerable with my own struggles and perhaps help someone along the way. I started working as an HR assistant only recently, about 2 years ago. Young, ambitious and driven, I was more than eager to embark on this new journey. As the world keeps getting more digital, the field of marketing seemed the most exciting option. My responsibilities consisted of recruiting and training new marketers, and it all was good at the beginning.
What I didn’t expect were the challenges that came along with this profession. A perfectionist, I would put too much pressure on my employees. Others were intimidated by me and it was becoming hard to connect with one another. Add here my introverted side and lack of emotional intelligence, dealing with all those people seemed daunting and impossible. Instead of giving up, I turned to creative practices to nourish my skills.
One of the best ways I have learned in enhancing these skills is through taking part in creative practices. Art has a way of pushing our boundaries and getting us out of our comfort zones. By being consistent and intentional, I have learned about empathy, courage, patience among other lessons that have continually made me a better leader. Here are the artistic activities that I do that teach me valuable lessons on leadership.
I have always loved music since my childhood days. I was in the school and church choirs and played instruments here and there. However, my interest got lost somewhere along the way. It is only recently that I thought of rekindling my childhood interest. Thankfully, technology has now advanced with tools like free music-making software readily available. I can now make my own music on the computer and just have fun mixing sounds together.
The most profound thing about my reignited interest in music is that it has taught me lessons that have become valuable to me as a leader. As I make music, learn difficult pieces and relearn how to play musical instruments, I have had to think of better ways to achieve better results. This has made me more innovative at finding problem-solving ideas. The process also requires patience and a lot of discipline to master important techniques. As a result, I have gained better discipline and I’m more confident in what I can achieve. I have also been able to strike a balance between my creative and emotional side as well as my logical and practical side.
I joined painting classes out of curiosity on whether I can make worthwhile artworks. Thankfully, my curiosity led me to a place that I have learned so much more. Two exercises stand out for me in my painting journey. One is where we are asked to study a painting to determine the intention and message in the artist’s mind. This has made me more observative in understanding the intention behind my team’s activities. Observing paintings has also made me realize how small things come together to create something beautiful. I have since developed a better eye for how I see my team. Rather than focusing on the whole team, I can see how each individual’s skills are important for the success of the whole team.
The second exercise is where one student describes a piece of art and the second student tries to recreate the piece. This requires the two to work together, asking and answering questions and revising them to make it perfect. This has taught me the power of teamwork. Most importantly, it has enhanced my listening skills.
Gardening is one of my favorite activities because it allows me to switch off from work and just enjoy the greenery around me. With it, I have learned leadership skills that have come in handy in my work as an assistant team leader. For starters, plants require ideal conditions to thrive. I started with indoor gardening. I helped my plants grow with indoor grow tents. This has taught me the importance of providing my team with the right environment for growth but most importantly it taught me to be patient and wait for the process. I’m always pushing the upper management to provide development opportunities for everyone. And I am now aware that good things take their time. I have also learned to pave the way and allow them to learn by delegating some of my duties to my juniors. Just as I get excited seeing my crops thrive, I’m always happy to see my team make progress. I cheer them up and shower them with praises whenever they thrive.
Writing is therapeutic and has always given me a platform to put down my sentiments on different issues. Thinking about it deeply, the writing process has been instrumental in sharpening my leadership skills. For starters, I ensure that my writing is grammatically correct, with all the commas and right capitalization. This devotion in the smallest details has stood out for me. As a leader and someone responsible for assigning duties to my team, I can see the importance of breaking down goals into manageable tasks, deciding whom to assign which task, and evaluating the whole process for effectiveness. As I write, I always wish that I can connect with my audience and that I’m clear enough to be understood. This is the same connection that I strive for with my team. Working as a medical content freelancer writer was also a flourishing experience for me, since I would have to work on different tasks and try my best to manage my time so I would get them all done on time.
Sports are all about teamwork. Teammates must work together to beat the other team. As I play basketball to keep fit and connect with my friends, the teamwork trait stands out for me. Our team leader delegates the positions that each has to play, which has taught me a lot in delegating tasks for my team. Another thing with playing basketball is that players in a team have to communicate verbally and non-verbally for them to win. I have learned the importance of communication in a team. It has also taught me to be a better communicator which is essential in motivating and appreciating my team. Lastly, we sit together as a team to discuss strategies that can help us win against our opponents. This has come in handy to improve my strategic development skills.
6. Learning from home
Learning from home made it possible for me to attend classes from comfortable surroundings, submit the online assignments on time, and communicate my queries with the teachers at any time. Instead of heading towards the library for course material, the learning material was available on the web at any time. At the same time, I was able to continue chasing my professional career, beginning a family, and providing a good reason to my employer for promoting my career. I could find online courses at different prices, I also engaged in online courses which helped me nourish my business skills. All that was required was enrolling for the online courses and getting the proper course material ready.
It is important for me as a team leader to set myself apart and come up with ideas that I’m able to execute to my best ability. That is why I use my skills to build a team that values teamwork, is happy, and is engaged in their work. I’m constantly developing these skills so that they can help me in my career and personal life. Taking part in the creative activities mentioned above has also helped me hone my leadership skills. Rather than complaining about technology, I’ve learned to leverage the available technology to my advantage and encourage others to do so as well.