Creative leadership will require unlocking innovative solutions to persistent problems

3 ways to lead out-of-the-box ideas at your institution

Creative leadership will require unlocking innovative solutions to persistent problems--here are three tips to get you on the right path

Complex problems demand creative solutions. Dynamic leaders transform obstacles into opportunities. Far too many institutions in higher education are yawning on the brink of obsolescence because they persist in doing things the same way simply because “we’ve always done it this way.” Insightful leaders are able to marry the wisdom of experience with openness to fresh ideas.

For some entrepreneurial thinkers, unconventional thinking comes naturally. Unfortunately, we are not all Steve Jobs. Thankfully, creativity isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s not something you have or you don’t. Creativity is a muscle that can be strengthened. In fact, more cautious individuals are often able to harness the productive power of innovation without being blind-sided by potential downsides. There are simple steps all of us can take to cultivate creativity. We have three ways to pioneer out-of-the-box ideas at your organization.

Evaluate Outcomes

Sometimes innovative solutions are tectonic shifts, but often minor adjustments have major implications. Step back and consider what your objective is and the different ways you can achieve it. Don’t just look at the what, but the how.

In the face of a nation-wide teacher shortage, many municipalities are paying teachers more to attract talent. One school district evaluated where to best focus funds for the optimum results. Leaders in Battle Creek, Michigan, noticed that when teachers put down roots in their community, it improved job satisfaction and increased retention. They pioneered a program that enables teachers to live in the communities where they teach. The school district partnered with local realtors to provide up to $20,000 in down payment assistance or $4,500 of rental assistance per year for teachers who moved into a target area. This inventive approach allowed their retention efforts to be more effective without a larger investment.

Involve Others

Someone in your organization has the solution to your problem, you just have to identify it. Innovative leaders empower others to understand and address opportunities. A diversity of voices improves outcomes.

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