Creativity is essential to the entrepreneurship that gets new businesses started and that sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale. Creativity on a leadership level is also important for helping businesses adapt to a rapidly changing and sometimes unpredictable environment.

In general, creativity broadens the perspectives of leaders – someone who relies on a pattern from a previous job may struggle to adopt tools that could make their team more efficient, for example.In other cases, a leader with a fixed mindset might not consider hiring someone with a different profile. They might not hire someone who could teach them a new way to approach a problem, expanding the solution set beyond traditional ways of solving the problem.
A good leader can do much to challenge and inspire creative work in progress by appreciating the audience.

Technical information for the chapter

Creativity at the leadership level requires soft skills that foster creating a diverse, resilient workforce that’s able to adapt, meet challenges with imagination and innovate. It is not enough to have a plan for routes A to B since B is constantly changing. Creative leaders should have a plan on how to create a team that can find its way toward a constantly changing goal and adapts on the way. Creative leaders should master the following soft skills that will facilitate that task:

  • Adaptability: Creative leaders are aware of the fact that the working environment is changing very fast making it almost impossible to make long-term plans.
  • Confidence: Creative leaders are confident in the aim they want to achieve and are able to transfer that confidence to their teams.
  • Collaboration: Creativity today requires the collaboration of large teams who are able to work together. The difference between creative teams and non-creative ones is often in their ability to work together.
  • Critical thinking: Creative leaders are the ones who are able to work clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connections between ideas. That applies to their teams, too.
  • Problem-solving skills: Creativity is an integral part of problem-solving, which requires an ability to analyse, diagnose and deal with problems effectively. Additionally, people, who are successful problem-solvers tend to become leaders, being the ones who lead others to solutions.

Creativity is the most important quality for leaders to develop successful businesses (IBM Global CEO Study form 2010). The thing at stake is the company’s sheer existence.

The average life expectancy of companies nowadays is only 15 years compared to 67 years in the early 1900s. The Kodak case is symptomatic indicating the importance of creative leadership. In 1999, it was one of the oldest, strongest, and most successful multinationals in the world, with a listed market value of US$200 billion. Just 12 years later, this figure stood at US$180 million – a loss in value of 99%. The reason was the leaders’ inability to acknowledge the rise of digital technology and the technological advancement that changed the whole business. While Kodak kept making the process of manufacturing and distributing chemical-based film more efficient digital photography took its place. They were getting better and better at doing the wrong thing. This case study shows quite clearly the risks that a lack of leadership creativity can bring to a company.

Managers try to make companies efficient but without approaching a problem from different angles it is difficult to say which is the best one. In its first steps, creativity requires producing a lot of ideas, which requires by definition loss of resources. The optimization of processes is possible only at the later stages of creativity.

The kind of creativeness that is required by today’s business is a result of communication, integration of different pieces of knowledge, and teamwork. It ensures adaptiveness to a constantly changing environment and is a key both to a company’s survival and personal carreer development.

Benefits for academic staff:

  • Clear path to develop your students’ qualifications in order to respond to companies’ requirements
  • Well-structured course and lesson plan to follow
  • Ready-to-use training materials
  • A way to guide your students how to develop skills highly required at the labour market

Benefits for students:

  • Learn what leadership creativity is and why it is that important
  • Training to effectively use some of the best techniques to boost creativity at the leadership level
  • Master skills that are useful and equally effective regardless of the field, in which your students will work in in the future.
  1. Introduction: what is creativity at the leadership level, why it is required in the labour market
  2. Assessment of students’ creativity at the leadership level
  3. Techniques to improve your skills in the field of creative leadership
  4. Exercises, Case studies
  5. Conclusion: wrap-up, what is next
  • Courses and classroom training (lectures, easy-to-follow structure)
  • Action learning (real-life situations and reflecting on real work challenges)
  • There are templates provided for each creativity technique.
  • The techniques at the leadership level can be taught in face-to-face, blended, or online mode.
  • Online, blended, and offline
  • Lectures
  • Exercises
  • Group work
  • Discussions

The course is designed for an academic environment.

The Phillips 66 technique requires groups of 6 people. In a case of a larger group of students, it should be divided into smaller ones.

Lesson plan

1Introduction to topic and assessment with audit tool

Students use the audit tool to assess their starting baseline levels of creativity

Needed internet access and devices for all participants to use audit tool

PPT – Slides
15 min.09:00 –9:15
2Exercise 1: Phillips 66
(for topic(s) predetermined by instructor)

Template, sketch paper, pen/pencil, whiteboard; or can be completed on a computer using internet access, devices, template.
30 min. or more
(10 min. instruction;
10 min. task;
5 min. presenting;
5 minutes discussion and final remarks)
Can present technique and then have students complete in class.
3Exercise 2: Synectics
(for topic(s) predetermined by instructor)

In-person: whiteboard/flipchart/paper and markers, table, chairs.
Problem Template
Template – Simple Analogies,

Template – Fantasy Analogies,
Template – Personal analogies,
Template – Symbolic Analogies,
Template – a template of a proposal to solve a problem,

Online: TEAMS platform and whiteboard functio
3 hoursCan present technique and then have students complete in class or as homework.
4Exercise 3: Headstand Technique

PPT – Slides; sketch paper, pen/pencil, template, whiteboard or can be completed on a computer using internet access, devices, template.
45 min. or more
(10 min. instruction;
25 min. task;
10 min. discussing results)
5Exercise 4: Mind mapping

Exercise 4: PPT – Slides; template

sketch paper, pen/pencil, template, whiteboard Online: internet access, devices, template
45 min. or more
(10 min. instruction;
25 min. task;
10 min. discussing results)
6Exercise 5: Worst Possible Idea

sketch paper, pen/pencil, template, whiteboard Online: internet access, devices, template
30 min or more
(5 min. instruction;
15 min. task;
10 min. discussing results)
7Wrap up & Session Evaluation

Handout – Session Evaluation Form
10 min.
TOTAL:355 min.6 hrs 55 mins

Learning content for the chapter

The training course includes the following creativity techniques that are assessed to be useful in the process of developing soft skills related to creativity at the leadership level:

  • Adaptability: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Phillips 66
  • Attentiveness: Mind Mapping
  • Communication: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Synectics, Phillips 66
  • Confidence: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Synectics, Phillips 66
  • Collaboration: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Phillips 66
  • Critical thinking: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Synectics, Phillips 66
  • Curiosity: Worst Possible Idea, Headstand Technique
  • Initiative: Phillips 66
  • Inventiveness: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Synectics
  • Leadership: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Phillips 66
  • Negotiation skills: Mind Mapping, Phillips 66
  • Problem solving: Worst Possible Idea, Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique, Phillips 66
  • Self-discipline: Mind Mapping, Headstand Technique
  • Strategic thinking: Mind Mapping
  • Visualisation: Synectics

The learning content of the chapter on creativity includes:

  • Characteristics of today’s innovation-driven business environment requiring creativity at leadership level (ex. challenges of automation, increasingly competitive and uncertain landscape).
  • Risks.
  • Benefits and applications of creativity in business (problem solving, achieving growth, mentoring teams in the workplace, finding unlikely perspectives within the business, etc.)
  • New demands on employees.
  • Discussion with students.
  • Case studies.
  • Main characteristics of a creative leader.
  • Creative leaders in contrast to traditional management.
  • Organisational structure and creative leadership.
  • Different aspects of diversity and creativity.
  • Filtering mechanisms for good ideas.

In the process of the development of creativity at the leadership level, it is important to be aware of where you are in the game. Appreciate the different creative types among your people—and realize that some are better at certain phases of creativity than others. And be very tolerant of the subversive.

There is an evident gap between the skills that are thought to HE graduates and the skills that are needed in the workplace. Oftentimes, the skills required in the business are acquired through specific training. One successful way to learn soft skills is through practice and experience rather than through theory. Some of the skills that are particularly important for developing creativity at the leadership level are adaptability, confidence, collabоration, curiosity, etc. That’s why the 5 creativity exercises included in this chapter put an emphasis on developing these particular skills.

A. How to update teaching strategies

  • Be more innovative in overcoming patterns and evaluating new ideas. It could be beneficial to be more open-minded and encourage students’ opinions.
  • Recognize the different processes in the development of soft skills.
  • Be more collaborative and encouraging of new ideas, even when these ideas come from students.
  • Be more innovative in the teaching methods themselves – exclude classical lessons with books and theory explanations, rather engage the students in discussions and brainstorming.
  • Use the creativity techniques provided as working tools on the topic of creativity.
  • Avoid traditional lectures when possible and encourage students to actively participate in the training process (opportunities for projects, brainstorming, etc.)

B. How to adjust the levels of the techniques, make them more impactful.

  • Use case studies as examples to clarify how certain technique works. (especially useful in heterogeneous groups)
  • Pay attention to success factors in the application of the techniques

Phillips 66 resources:

Denton, D. Keith. TOOLBOX FOR THE MIND: Finding and Implementing Creative Solutions
Lectureclass and Philips 66: a look about the teaching strategies for Academic students:

Headstand technique:
Creativity_Techniques.pdf (
Headstand Method (
2021 – Headstand Method: The Brainstorming Trick | ( Creativity Methods in Business – Smart Business Redefined
Peer Group Supervision – Consulting Module: Headstand Brainstorming (
The 5 Best Creative Techniques for Marketing Departments (

Anna Frankowska, Alicja Głowacka-Rębała, Application of creative thinking techniques in a health care institution, Economical Problems of Services No. 54, 2010, pp 443-454.
Sebastian Koziołek, Patrycja Bochniak, Tadeusz Smolnicki, Conceptual design with the use of selected heuristic methods, ZESZYTY NAUKOWE WSOWL, No. 1 (159) 2011, p. 135-144

Worst Possible Idea
The Power of Bad Ideas,
Bad Idea Brainstorm,
Make a change: ideate for bad ideas
Learn How to Use the Best Ideation Methods: Worst Possible Idea: ds-worst-possible-idea
To create a stable Design System you need to embrace change: 592c
Why bad ideas lead to good ideas: using “reverse thinking” in a design sprint at the National Gallery of Art:
Worst Possible Idea:
How Looking at the Worst Possible Idea Could Lead You to the Best One:
You Just Proposed The Worst Idea Possible? Yeah, Well, It’s Actually Pure Gold: ts-actually-pure-gold
To Come Up with a Good Idea, Start by Imagining the Worst Idea Possible: le
Why good design comes from bad design: (Scott Bercun’s essay on the individual uses of the technique)
Designing on both sides of your brain:
Ideation Techniques, Prepared by Bryan Matimore:

Mind mapping: