How to get creativity and innovation flowing?

Do you hunt for the no?
Do you encourage the minority to speak?
Do you give space to the drive and inspiration of others?

Its place on the pyramid

In contemporary leadership, we feel that open-mindedness connects result and relation. To achieve supported results and nurture happy, motivated people you have to involve your team. This includes being open to their ideas and finding as co-operative a way forward as possible.


One of the most impactful ways to engage and motivate people is to value their ideas and ask for their input. Most people find it deeply satisfying to be able to influence their environment. We often think that the best way to inspire people is to tell them inspirational stories. This can have some effect, but it is far more often the case that people are inspired when they are given the space to talk, co-create and express and use their own ideas.

What you can do starting today:

Whenever possible, do not sell your own solution but engage people on the level of the challenge and let them find the solutions

Share challenges with your team. Identify the facts, define the ambition and the playing field (see leadership funnel) and then brainstorm. Get everyone individually to write down possible solutions, categorize them and see if they correspond with the playing field. Next, ask the team to vote and decide which solution to implement. Accept the outcome even if it is not your solution!

Talk about interactions within the team

Encourage open-mindedness among team members. Describe what you see in the behaviour of team members, who takes the initiative, who hangs back and what the effect of this is from your perspective. Describe behaviour in a factual and objective way and then discuss the situation. Ask, ‘is this what we want, do we want things to be different? How?’ (see also leadership compass)

Use design thinking techniques to involve people and to get more ideas

Tackle a challenge by using design thinking: put relevant people and/or stakeholders together and:
define the problem;
map the problem: map all factors causing the problem or keeping it alive;
empathise: ask everyone to put themselves in the shoes of the end-user;
ideate: brainstorm possible solutions, decide which you want to focus on;
prototype: build the solution, do not talk about it, show it;
improve and further implementation: gather feedback and improve your solution with input from everyone involved.
We advise you take a look at It offers several informative courses on design thinking.

Go beyond resistance, find and work with the people’s intentions

When co-workers offer solutions that you don’t consider valid, do not just reject their suggestion, ask open questions to find the drive/interest behind the solution and see if you can use this intention to guide the co-worker to a better solution. (see also leadership compass)

Be a coach: be conscious about when to be active/passive/I/WE

As a leader, be a bit more active (a bit more of a coach) with co-workers when they have not yet developed the maturity they need to find their own solutions and tend towards being passive whenever possible. Stay on the ‘we’ side by actively showing that you are there to help them to grow. So, don’t impose your view but ask the right questions and give useful information to find a solution or way forward. (see also leadership compass)

Have a look at the tools on our Compassion to Lead website. For open-mindedness, look in particular at the ‘connect people’ tools.