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My 20 years as an innovation/creativity consultant and as a director of career services departments  in higher education  have taught me a lot about leadership. The reality is that we need different kinds of leaders for different types of problems.

But the one commonality is that positive change is  driven by creativity which requires moving away from the norm. Exploring novel and endless possibilities is what ignites creativity.  An environment that encourages and supports diversity, bringing many types of thinking and personalities to the table  is what fuels creativity much like oxygen does to a fire.  Change leaders need to be willing to break the rules of the “norm” or the organization becomes stagnate. That may be what happened to GM.

If you create an environment in an organization that encourages diversity in thinking and values the individuals who courageously break with the norm to bring new insights into an organization, you will have a vibrant and strong organization that always anticipates the changes in its future. Change is accepted as a normal part of the ongoing problem solving process.

Great leaders are really facilitators of their talented and diverse teams and their main role is to encourage diversity in thinking and lead their teams in the creation of a global vision and policies for the organization that are a result of input from many levels within the organization rather than closed door policy making. I have seen it time and again that major decisions are made without the consult of the very people most in a position to understand the problem.

So the only hope for an organization with a culture of sameness is a leader that “breaks rules” but it is a precarious position to be in because often that leader easily becomes the “messenger who gets shot”.  Usually that individual is an “innovator” style of creativity and is willing to take risks and walk away from a situation once their “job” is done. Unfortunately, many organizations have lost their innovators or stifled their voice in the name of uniformity.

By creating teams that celebrate their diversity of thinking and talents a leader insulates an organization from “group think” and positions it to be able to weather any storm. In this time of great change, leaders need to prepare them selves to navigate these turbulent waters by leveraging their own talents and creativity and training their leadership teams to do the same!

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