Three Steps to Building Your Team’s Creative Confidence – Part Two

4 min read

In part one of this article, I explained the significant business implications of creativity and outlined the three steps teams can take to build their creative confidence. 

As a reminder, the three steps are:

  1. Rally around a common cause
  2. Leave your comfort zone (a little)
  3. Collaborate on creative efforts 

Now let’s dig in with a more in-depth exploration of steps one and two.

Step One: Rally around a common cause

Without a reason to come together and improve a team’s creativity, it’s hard to inspire individual team members to buy in to the idea. This is were rallying around a common cause can be the most helpful. A common cause can be anything from building a culture of innovation, preparing for a future company-wide transformation or any one of an infinite number of big-picture challenges that require a creative mindset. The cause itself is less important than the team’s commitment to whatever cause they choose. 

For example, when I was brought in to work with an airline whose cause was coordinating their disparate teams, they wrote a song using the metaphor of geese flying south for the winter. The song, called “If You’ve Got My Front, I’ve Got Your Back”, helped them add emotion and storytelling to their cause which made the exploration of coordinating their disparate teams much more motivating and memorable.

Finding a common cause for your team requires an awareness of the goals and challenges your team is currently facing. Simply asking your team members what difficulties they’re contending with is a good place to start. Encouraging team members to face these ideas head on begins the process of thinking more creatively about possible solutions. It’s important to note that this approach can be applied by leaders and teams in a variety of ways beyond a songwriting exercise. By thinking laterally about an essential idea or challenge, teams will open up new and previously unexplored ways of thinking. This exploration can take a variety of forms. One approach for thinking laterally that I’d suggest is the haiku. This form of poetry is a particularly good approach for exploring a team’s common cause as its brevity and structure (three lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively) make the creative approach accessible to all. Once a team shows themselves capable of this kind of creativity even in an exercise as simple as writing a little poetry, the boost in creative confidence will naturally follow.

Step Two: Leave your comfort zone (a little)

Creative work, even for professional creatives, can feel daunting so it’s no wonder that teams are resistant to creative work. That being said, part of the magic of creativity is that it unlocks a part of us that only lives outside of our comfort zones. While executives who participate in my songwriting program routinely describe themselves as “not creative,” what they really mean is that they’re unfamiliar with how to access their latent creativity. In response, I break down the songwriting process into its component parts of metaphor, verse and chorus so that it becomes a simple exercise with clearly defined parameters. Once the rules for exploring their creativity are defined, the teams’ initial discomfort disappears. Without exception in the almost a decade of songwriting programs I’ve facilitated, every team succeeds in writing the lyrics to a song and – in spite of their initial hesitation – enthusiastically sings their newly-written song together.

The teams’ resulting exhilaration is the natural consequence of going beyond the boundaries of their typical daily work and comfort zones. While this can feel overwhelming at first, the rewards in the form of an increase in creative confidence are worth a little, carefully-scripted discomfort. Also, once teams realize that they’re capable of small steps outside of their comfort zones, their confidence and motivation will lead to a greater willingness to take calculated risks in the future. If you’re unsure of what constitutes leaving your comfort zone, perhaps consider the haiku approach suggested above . This is a low-stress yet unfamiliar challenge that will nudge your team to use their beginners’ minds. But, really, any challenge that doesn’t allow your team to rely on their existing knowledge or expertise will do the trick.

In the third and final part of this article, I’ll explain how collaboration on creative efforts is an genuinely effective way to build your team’s creative confidence.


Find out more about Cliff’s innovation & creativity programs for business teams and organizations.

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