This is the third article in a three-part series on creative leaders:
Embrace the reverse pilot | Look outside your circle | Make time for inspiration

We often overlook things that are too simple, delaying them for a time that never comes or not making the time because it does not seem big enough to add to a list or calendar. Yet taking some simple steps, regularly, can prove to be the difference between being a creative leader and a stressed manager.

Try these three simple ways to add more sustainable creativity into that leadership bag of tricks.


An easy and fun habit to start is a thought-provoking collection. Designate a notebook, (real or a virtual one like Evernote) a white board or a space on a wall for Post-its and start collecting absolutely anything that is thought-provoking. Ideas, phrases, interesting facts, tidbits — anything that inspires your brain to look at something differently.

Whether the concept evokes anger, frustration, laughter or contemplation, take note of it. The goal is to start collect anything that generates a reaction in you. That reaction could be a source of a new approach.

For example, positive quotes could prove inspirational during a challenging time. Consistently frustrating phrases could help point to an underlying communication problem. Unique ideas from other industries could lead to your own a-ha moment.

The key to building a successful collection is to start doing it, add to it regularly, do not over think it and just see where it goes.

Prioritize brainstorming

Another common and successful creativity technique is brainstorming. We all know the great and unexpected ideas and solutions that can come from a group that is free to question, explore and discuss. So why not make it a recurring meeting?

Brainstorming does not have to occur spontaneously or in response to an emergency. As leaders, we have the ability to schedule meetings and the broader organizational perspective to see challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Why not leverage that into a standing meeting to brainstorm?

Create a list of questions it would be great to answer, problems to solve or opportunities to consider. Then, pick one as the focus of the brainstorm. Check out these ideas from Fast Company on how to run and not run a successful brainstorming session. Then, set some dates.

Quiet time

Collecting thought-provoking concepts and establishing regular brainstorming sessions are two easy ways to add to our leadership creativity. It can also be helpful to stop adding and instead give ourselves some space into which our minds can expand.

Whether we start a business journal, sit quietly and let our minds wonder or take a walk to wander and wonder, adding a little white space to our day can be just what our brains need to refocus.

The bottom line is, the world around us however monotonous or routine it may seem provides ample opportunity for inspiration. To remain creative as leaders, we just need to find new ways to tap into the resources already available to us.