Leaders: How to Get More Creativity, Energy, and Clarity

Energized Employees

Do you want more creativity, energy, problem-solving, and clear-thinking at your workplace? Of course you do! Who doesn’t want a team that is happy, energetic, creative, and solves problems easily? 

I can’t think of one organization that couldn’t benefit in this way. I think we may have found the magic bullet.

And the great news is this:  it’s free, easy, and you don’t have to sell your soul to get it.

It’s not:

  • Some new drug
  • Some revolutionary new way of leading
  • More coffee or energy drinks in the vending machine
  • And it definitely is not that sugary donuts in the break room

But it is pretty much free and very easy to implement.

It’s (drum roll please). . . . . . . . exercise.

Be Wise, Exercise

I’m not talking about installing a new fitness center in your organization.  I’m talking about taking a 15-minute walk during the traditional smoke break, possibly having some of those meetings while walking around the facility, and encouraging your employees to do the same.  The impact could be nothing short of amazing!

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. Plato

In his book, Brain Rules, John Medinamakes a compelling case for change regarding productivity, creativity, and cognitive abilities.

Some of the key findings presented based on a multitude of scientific evidence include:

  • There is a direct link between exercise and brain function.
  • Our brains were designed to move.  Movement increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain which allows it to function at maximum capacity.
  • Exercise actually fertilizes the brain.
  • Studies indicate that children who exercise for just 30-minutes three times a week experienced increased test scores.  If you translate that logic to the workplace, can you see the potential?

Some Key Examples

Google is well-known for their facilities that encourage creativity.  The Googleplex in Mountain View, California boasts four fitness centers, bicycles located throughout the campus that employees use to get from one building to the other for meetings, volleyball courts, ping-pong tables, pool tables, and a host of other activities that promote movement throughout the day.

Google has experienced tremendous growth and continues to carry 61% of the search engine market.

Could the environment in which these people work have something to do with the capability of the company?

Patagonia, an outdoor apparel manufacturer, encourages employees to take breaks to go running, biking, or surfing in the middle of the workday.  Showers are provided and their flex schedules allow them to manage their time.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.  -John F. Kennedy

Take a Hike

On a personal note, I have very fond memories of a position I once held in which, like many of you, I ran from meeting to meeting all day long.  I found it difficult to touch base with my employees so I implemented, quite by accident, walking meetings.  This was a large campus and my meetings were often scattered.

I’d have the employee meet me and walk with me to the next meeting while we discussed whatever it was that needed discussing.  I never felt more productive, creative, or as healthy as I did while holding that position.

Looking back I have to wonder if the increased activity contributed to the increased creativity and productivity of our entire team.

You may be wondering at this point how on earth you can make such a massive change in your organization.  Maybe you own or work in a small business.  You likely do not have the resources of Google.

Here is what you can do on a smaller scale.

  • Hold more walking meetings.
  • Consider having a yoga instructor come on site once a week.
  • Consider putting a treadmill or two in a room.  When you need to have a closed-door meeting, invite your participant to get on a treadmill and talk.
  • Set the example for your employees so they feel comfortable getting more exercise.
  • Encourage others to walk during lunch.

What experiences have you had regarding exercise and your own productivity and creativity? What small, easy, and inexpensive solutions can you implement to get people moving? How can you create a culture of movement that helps your team get in some exercise during the day? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Mari Peck is an Independent Consultant specializing in Leadership & OD
She helps leaders be their best & effectively implement organizational change
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Image Sources: corporatewellnessmagazine.com

Quit Faking It! Great Leaders Are Authentic

Fake Leader

There is probably no worse leader than a fake leader.

Or a leader that tries to imitate a style they read about in a book.

Or worse yet, the style of the previous leader at their organization. 

If you want to try out your acting skills, try them out at the community theater, not on your team.

Faux Leadership

Your team will, at some point, see right through you and you will at some point, get sick of acting.  This doesn’t mean you have to take on a “This is who I am and I’m not changing anything approach.”

And it isn’t an excuse for why you don’t need to learn anything anymore.  You still need to learn and grow within your role.

What is does mean, however, is quit trying to be something you are not.

  • Just because you read a book by Ken Blanchard, that doesn’t make you an excellent story-teller that can develop others through creative parables
  • Reading the latest and greatest Tony Robbins books doesn’t make you inspirational
  • And watching Oprah doesn’t mean you have a high EQ (Emotional Quotient)

Now that we know what being authentic is not, let’s talk about what makes a person authentic.

Being an Authentic Leader

An authentic leader first and foremost knows and accepts themselves without excuses.

  • They know their strengths and limitations
  • They understand their passion and they don’t try to stifle it in the spirit of acting professional
  • They are consistent in what they do
  • Their people have a clear understanding of who they are and what they believe

I love reading the stories about Steve Jobs because although everyone who ever worked for him agreed that he was a bit of a jerk, they all understood his passion and beliefs about the products being developed.  He was comfortable in his own skin. And although he had plenty of opportunity for leadership development, nobody can question his authenticity.

Bill George, the author of Authentic Leadership and True North explains this concept so clearly.

 “I think that it is very straightforward. You have to be yourself. You have to be the genuine person and you have to recognize that ‘I’m a unique person and so I’m not trying to be like you. I’m trying to be who I am’.

But you have to develop yourself as a leader. And that is why we wrote True North, because my first book Authentic Leadership did not tell people how to develop themselves.

If you want to understand the purpose of your leadership, you have to gain a deep level of self-awareness. You can’t just, as we say at Harvard, “follow the herd” and everyone is going into this profession or that one. You have to decide what it is you want.”

Leadership Development

There are plenty of leadership books available that tell us how others approach leading.  Some are very direct and prescriptive.  I remember when Jack Welch and the GE Way came out and the number of organizations that jumped on the GE approach to leadership.

They tried to turn an approach that worked successfully for one leader into a cookie cutter system that all leaders could successfully implement.

Here’s a news flash – everyone isn’t Jack Welch. 

Consequently, those approaches, when implemented, resulted in frustration, fear, and poor decisions in some organizations.  There is no question that Jack Welch was an outstanding leader for GE and his approach worked well for the given time period, situation, and conditions.

But this doesn’t mean his approach works for all time periods, situations, and conditions.

Just Be…

Authenticity means being who you are and being okay with that person.

  • If you are an individual that tends to be a bit of a jerk with lots of passion for the product you create, capitalize on the passion and hire someone as a buffer between yourself and the masses.
  • If you have a soft heart and want to run the company with a softer, more empathetic approach but that isn’t getting the results you need, hire someone who can balance your approach and get results.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this isn’t a cop-out or an excuse to not learn and develop your leadership skills.  You are, after all, the leader.  You are responsible for setting the example and if you want a culture of continuous improvement you must be the first to improve.

Sometimes hiring someone with the skills you lack is a perfect way for you to learn while achieving results.

“First you will have to understand yourself, because the hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself. Second, to be an effective leader, you must take responsibility for your own development.” ~ Bill George, True North

Maybe leaders have come under so much scrutiny in recent years to be something or someone they are not and in the process we have lost authenticity.

Let me be a reminder, you are good enough.

Being you is the only way you can truly be successful.  Instead of trying to imitate someone else, try this:

Be real.  Be authentic.  Be yourself.

So, what can you do this coming year to really understand who you are and what you really bring to the table? What can you do to find people in your organization who can complement your strengths and fill in your weaknesses? How can you work to be more of you, and less of what the next leadership book models for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

 Mari Peck is an Independent Consultant specializing in Leadership & OD
She helps leaders be their best & effectively implement organizational change

Image Sources: tommyland 


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