1. Does Management Kill Creativity?

    As the tech world grows incredibly crowded with entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on that unique ‘killer’ idea, more and more people will find that discovering a niche and owning it, is one of the few paths to survival. This is a fairly widely accepted truth, and yet, so often the innovation and creativity required to achieve these goals are killed from — the top-down. Why?

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve become consumed with the concept of creativity, and how to foster it within both my life and at work — where I direct the creative focus of many of our projects. As a I move further and further from the actual design process, and into a leadership I find that it’s harder and harder to be creative in my work.

    I am less concerned with the ramifications that this has on my personal creativity, and rather with the thought that this new mindset might affect the quality of our work, the creativity of our team and the ability for us to adapt quickly to new ideas that will give us an edge in the market place. This got me exploring…

    The Management Mindset

    Mangers are people who don’t take risks. They typically are focused on budgets, requirements and timelines. Since managers are risk-adverse, they are less likely to look to their team for innovation or creativity, as it challenges the structure that the manager maintains.

    Another problem with the manager mindset is that most managers feel that they are responsible for bringing all the goals and creativity to the table. They don’t look to their team for any input but instead the often view their team as workhorses. Now, you might be able to get away with that in some industries, but the tech industry is demanding, and requires skilled minds. You cannot afford to treat your team in this way; you’ll burn them out and you’ll lose out on their potential.

    If you are a small business owner with a small team, it’s very hard to avoid the management roll. Often it is necessary for you to create structure, point your team in the right direction and make sure they stay on task. However, if you want to grow your potential, ensure long term success and your build net worth, you must break this habit.

    How do we do this? Well, for starters…

    Become a Leader

    Leaders don’t have ’employees’ they have followers. Instead of demanding order and a specific structure, they lead by example. Leaders engage their team, enticing the best qualities and ideas into the light; for no other incentive than the natural human desire for mastery.

    While leaders may not be management focused, it doesn’t mean that leaders do not pay attention to tasks – in fact they are often very achievement-focused. What they do realize, however, is the importance of enthusing others to work towards their vision.

    Engagement

    I stumbled across a great video from the RSA that contained a creative, interesting animation tied to a talk by Dan Pink, the author of Drive, and a celebrated TED speaker. In the video, Dan makes some very valid points about incentives, and whether they are the best way to drive and motivate your team. The video is about 10 minutes long, I suggest you watch it, he can give 10x the amount of incite into this topic than I can.

    I took away several important ideas from this talk.

    Engaging your team, no matter how risky it might feel to you, could be one of the most important steps toward making your company and it’s products or services stronger.

    Leaders motivate, and engage their followers, and then get out of the way! Don’t micromanage the potential of your team. If you’ve done a good job as a leader you’ve hired people that inspire you, people that are smarter than you — never forget that!

    For discussion: What are your thoughts on Management vs Leadership? How do you maintain a balance as a leader in your company?