Are You a Leader that Pushes Creative Limits?

by Alli Polin on May 24, 2013

Leaders spark creativity and passion to foster innovation

Imagine, you’re doing your job day in, day out, and after a while you get a little bored (shocker) and decide to shake things up.  You want to know what happens when you change your process flow.  You start to brainstorm with your peers to understand their best practices too and one day you have a big ah-ha.  You see a path that could make a huge difference to your team’s ability to deliver quality to the client and you decide to bring it to the Director.

If your imagination is anything like many organizations, you’ll be told to get back to work because you’re not paid to think.  The rigid response tells you that there is no need to focus on new processes because the way we’ve always done it works; there’s no need to change.  Wave goodbye to employee engagement and start to put your resume together.

Innovation doesn’t stand a chance when leaders fear change and live by the status quo.  The most creative leaders fear the ruts, not the stretch, and push themselves and their teams beyond their self-imposed creative limits.  One example of a creative leader that left the status quo in the dust is Mike Tompkins.

Are you thinking Mike who?  Mike Tompkins!  If you don’t know who he is, he is an a cappella artist that dubs all the sounds of the different instruments, and puts them together to make music magic.

What do I love about Mike and his creative leadership?

  • He didn’t know that he could do what he does until he tried
  • Mike didn’t wait for a big record deal to show the world his gifts, he just got started
  • He’s expressive and shares his passion openly
  • His creativity is contagious and inspirational
  • There’s total transparency on how he creates his work

Besides all of that, his music makes me happy and definitely makes me feel like I need to stretch myself creatively too, and capture some of that joy.

Remember, it was just an idea…. He didn’t know he could do it.  When was the last time you tried something just to see if you could do it?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

lalitaraman May 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

Enthusiasm in someone should never be killed. Not every idea may work out but managers need to atleast be open to listening rather than my way or no way.

Good post Alli


Alli Polin May 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

Too many managers DO kill enthusiasm and people learn that instead of being creative leaders, they should be quiet, keep their heads down and ideas to themselves. Listening is a great place to start! Important points, Lalita! Thank you!


Stephen Lahey May 24, 2013 at 10:56 am

Comedy is a fun creative outlet, and if you can get others laughing you can spark their enthusiasm and shift their perspective on problems, etc.


Alli Polin May 25, 2013 at 12:30 am

Steve – you have a gift for using comedy in the most authentic and sincere way which absolutely pulls people in and puts them in a relaxed creative state with you. Thanks for pointing out the power of shared laughter!


Johann Gauthier May 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm


You are such a pure act of sheer JOY Alli ! I appreciate you 😉

Pure energy, when channeled and unleashed, can lead to great many things.

Now, when was the last time you tried something just to see if you could do it?




Alli Polin May 25, 2013 at 12:29 am

Pure joy! Thank you! 🙂 Always uplifted by YOU!

PS – Thanks for turning that call to action on ME! It’s been too long since I’ve felt the energy of the creative stretch and it’s about time I do it again – BIG!

Thanks, Johann!


Terri Klass May 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Love this Alli! Innovation alludes so many leaders because they are just afraid to go beyond their comfort zone or fear being challenged for trying something new. Your description of getting out of ruts is sometimes just what is needed to hit upon a new direction or invention. Leaders need the courage to take risks and the confidence they will succeed. Thanks for the fabulous video also!


Alli Polin May 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

Terri – It absolutely takes courage and belief that they can do it. Doubt usually makes people turn back without putting in 100% effort, shrug their shoulders, and walk away. The pull of the comfort zone is a strong one! Especially when it feels so warm and cozy and… safe. Greatly appreciate that you share your insights here, Terri!


David Sena May 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Alli, I agree. I believe in “progressive excellence”. We did amazing this week. How can we do better next week, next month or next year. Our organization will rise or fall based on the culture of creative change allowed. Thanks for the post.

FYI. Here is a similar post by me. LISTEN, EXPERIMENT and TRANSFORM! LET people make an impact.


Alli Polin May 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

David ~ I like that: “progressive excellence.” Each week stretching just a little further and eventually we’ll look back and be amazed how far we’ve come and how we’ve transformed ourselves and the work too. Enjoyed your post on Listen / Experiment & Transform. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing!


Alice Chan May 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Alli, the video wouldn’t play on my PC for some reason, but I thoroughly appreciated the message you’re trying to convey here. We truly can’t know what we can do unless we try. Unfortunately, in most orgs, we’re so afraid to fail that we don’t encourage our teams to try. Without passion and joy, I agree, innovation can’t happen, because creativity is stifled. Thank you for the reminder!


Alli Polin May 26, 2013 at 1:32 am

Alice ~ Too bad the video wouldn’t play! Bummer! Sadly, you’re right on with organizations that live in fear of failure and in the end find themselves standing still while other orgs pass them by. Innovation depends on a willingness to embrace creative concepts and turn them into reality but to me, creativity is no fun without a playful, passionate spark too. Sincerely appreciate your comment and sharing your experience here!


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