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Team Creativity At Work I and II: Creative Problem Solving At Its Best
Edward Glassman : Creativity & Innovation Leadership Styles

Creativity & Innovation Depends On Your Leadership Interactions With Your Team

By Edward Glassman, PhD

Creativity & innovation depend on your leadership styles, your roles and behaviors with your subordinates. Four useful styles exist, each with effective behaviors:

Style I. DIRECTIVE STYLE: Your predominant behaviors: telling, asserting, training, and modeling.

Style II. PARTICIPATIVE STYLE: Your predominant behaviors: coaching, negotiating, and collaborating.

Style III. CATALYTIC STYLE: Your predominant behaviors: encouraging, facilitating, and consulting.

Style IV. NON-DIRECTIVE STYLE: Your predominant behavior: delegating.

Choose your style according to your subordinate's ability, willingness, and confidence to work independently. That is, he or she:

  • has the willingness to do the task
  • has the ability and a high performance level
  • has the confidence he or she can accomplish the task.

Use the directive style if the person has low abilities to operate independently. Otherwise, use styles that exert less control.

What is Your Leadership Style?

What is your leadership style? A quick look may reveal your tendencies. Circle the number that best describes how close the style resembles your leadership style.

 

UNLIKE ME   1   2   3   4   5   LIKE ME

I. Directive Leader:
I enjoy taking charge and getting things done. I prefer specificity and objectivity. I believe if I clarify and define the facts and procedures, then personalities and feelings should have no significant influence. I like to decide the way to do a task, and then tell the people in my work group how to do it. I have a sincere wish for my people to succeed at what they do. I generally solve problems and disagreements alone. People sometimes resent my controlling behavior. Sometimes they perceive me as dictating, dominating or overprotective.

 

UNLIKE ME   1   2   3   4   5   LIKE ME

II. Participative Leader:
I believe that hard work and learning helps the people in my work group to realize their potential. I put my energy and focus my commitment on their development as well as on accomplishing the task. I solicit their ideas and show a great interest in their work. I give frequent informal feedback and coaching on their performance. I negotiate disagreements through mutual problem solving procedures. Sometimes they perceive me as compromising too soon.

 

UNLIKE ME   1   2   3   4   5   LIKE ME

III. Catalytic Leader:
I ensure that people in my work group grow in confidence and ability to perform their tasks. I recognize achievements and let them make decisions and solve their own problems. I listen non-evaluatively and encourage them with a warm personal approach. I solve problems and disagreements in a catalytic way, that is, I do not actually involve myself except as a catalyst. They sometimes perceive me as patronizing, condescending and meddling.

 

UNLIKE ME   1   2   3   4   5   LIKE ME

IV. Non-Directive Leader:
I like to concentrate on the big picture and enjoy planning the future. I delegate. I assign tasks or make requests, and allow the people in my work group to work and make decisions on their own. I occasionally monitor their work to stay informed and make sure needed resources are available. I let the people in my work group set their own pace and determine the ways to accomplish their work assignments. I interact minimally in a straightforward factual way, with little or no daily contact. I ensure that disruptions beyond my work group's control do not occur. I do not make decisions or solve problems for my work group. Sometimes they perceive me as avoiding, withdrawing, permissive or indifferent.

ADJUST YOUR STYLE: To help your team become more creative and effective, use skills from all four styles. How can you learn to do this? Add skills one at a time.

For example, you might learn...

  • how to assert for a more effective directive style
  • how to coach and how to negotiate disagreements for a more effective participative style
  • how to listen and respond non-evaluatively for a more effective catalytic style
  • how to delegate for a more effective non-directive style

What spoils you team's creative thinking, or what stimulates creative thought? Ask your team, directly or with questionnaires in my book.

Some people will respond they want more freedom of choice: time to think creatively; freedom to choose what to work on; freedom to decide how to accomplish goals. Some caution, however.

First: Farris1 reported that the most innovative N.A.S.A. teams, as judged by senior management, included mainly those whose supervisors' styles remained moderate, neither too tight nor too loose.

Second: Andrews and Pelz2 found that scientists in industry who were judged most effective by others in terms of scientific contributions and usefulness to the organization, had moderate controls, neither too tight nor too loose. See also my books on 'Team Creativity At Work' and Glassman3 for a summary of this topic.

(1 Farris, G. F. (1973) The Technical Supervisor. Technical Review 75 (5), April Issue.)

(2 Pelz, D. C. and F. M. Andrews (1976) Scientists In Organizations. Institute for Social Research. University of Michigan.)

(3 See my books on 'Team Creativity At Work' and my article Glassman, Edward (1986) "Managing for creative thinking: Back to basics in R&D." R&D Management. Volume 16: pages 175-183.)

This research indicates that the leadership habit of exercising too little control works less well. In other words, for highly innovative outcomes, complete freedom of choice does less well than moderate freedom combined with supportive consultations. •

© 2010 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »

10/15/10