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Creative Leadership Masterclass at Cass Business School

We held the first of our intensive, one-day Innovation Masterclasses on 9th September at Cass Business School. 'Creative Leadership' was the topic and our starting point was based on two pieces of recent research. The first was IBM's 'Capitalizing on Complexity', a global study of CEOs, which ranks 'creative leadership' as the number one desired leadership competency. The second was NESTA 'Everyday Innovation - How to enhance innovative working in employees and organisations' research study, conducted by Prof Fiona Patterson and her team at the Work Pschology Group. Fiona provided a rich and thought-provoking insight into the research findings.

We conducted group exercises to explore what is important about ‘creative leadership’, based on people’s experience, perceptions and wishes and we looked at the qualities of the creative leader of a star innovation team.



Here’s what we found:

 What’s Important About Creative Leadership? Qualities of the Leader of a Star Innovation Team

High Performing Teams

Importance of teams
Having the courage to stand up for your beliefs for the greater good (not for personal gain)
Letting go
Design the future
Re-considering the hierarchies
Understanding that leadership is at all levels of a business
Creative followership is just as important
New skills to gain insight into the needs of those we serve
Ring fencing (or not)


Sees the idea
Conscious, in the moment
Outcome/achievement driven

Developing new skills
Investing in your people, providing support to develop the skills required for creativity
Promote wider range of thinking skills
Manages energy well (own and that of team)

Creating a Climate of Possibility
Creativity rewarded
Permission to fail
Providing an environment for sharing of knowledge/experience
Giving direction in new ways

Buys the beers, takes people out for dinner
Inspires and motives (intrinsically)
Nurturer/developer of people
Not ego-driven, but serves the needs
Leads by example
Good at sharing/celebrating success

 Innovation Process
Understand the question
Framework/processes need to be clear throughout the organisation

Works with integrity
Open to variety
Strong sense of fun
Loves to experiment
Rewards failure

Open Innovation
External stimulus

Good, strong communicator
Good listener
Good influencer (influences politically)
Ability to translate and to translate between ‘brains’
Seeking and listening (inside and outside)

Value of Creative Leadership

Seeks and employs all the talents
Change will happen need to stay ahead
Essential for driving change
Pushing forward the creative process
Provide clarity
Business processes and culture limits creativity need leadership
Seeing round corners
Creates better outcomes
Right physical environments
Providing shelter
Flak protector
Protects team
Manages upwards

Personal Qualities

Sense of values and putting them into practise

Matches business needs to individual talents
Quick to recognise and reward
Gives good feedback
Fills in the gaps
Collaborative approach rather than solo career builder
Right balance of democracy and autocracy
Benevolent dictator
'Herder’ rather than ‘dictator’

What do you think? Tell us by emailing us at


If you missed this Masterclass and you are interested in an in-house version, tailored to the needs of your organisation, please get in touch, either by email or by telephone on +44 (0)1869 336200.


Here are a few comments from delegates:

Thank you for a very thought provoking day yesterday, I keep writing more and more notes like a feverish squirrel!’  BBC Executive


‘It really helps to lift your head for a few hours and talk to like-minded people with the same passions.’  Senior Strategy & Innovations Manager


‘Thank you for a wonderful session.'  Architect and creative spaces consultant

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