What is a leader’s role in an organisation and what skills, experience and character traits do they need to succeed?Creativity isn’t usually at the top of the executive team’s list, but it remains at the core of any business. The entrepreneurship that attracts new business is based on how creative a company is able to be, and in today’s innovation driven economy, leaders need to be the force behind creative endeavours within their organisations.

According to Harvard Business Review, creativity used to be an intellectual interest for some thoughtful executives, but it has now become an urgent concern for many. The authors gave a few ideas on how leaders can manage for creativity instead of simply ‘managing creativity’:

Engaging the right minds
The right minds need to be pulled into the right projects at the right time to engage in the necessary level of creative work. Employees need to be encouraged to contribute their imaginations and not only take instructions from their superiors.

Tap into the creativity of all ranks
According to research and experience from companies like Google and Linden Lab, the company that manages Second Life, the greatest success stories come from workers’ own initiatives. Creative work needs to be distributed across the entire organisation.

Facilitate greater collaboration
No man is an island and great breakthroughs rarely come from a single person. In today’s competitive marketplace, innovations are made when many people are able to contribute to an idea, technology or project. One of the ways to do this is to identify your company’s outliers or overachievers and put them in a position where they can help others achieve.

Why CEOs fail
Fortune Magazine published a classic article entitled “Why CEOs Fail” in 1999. In this article, the authors reported that it wasn’t a lack of vision or charisma that brought down powerful, experienced and knowledgeable CEOs, 70% of the time it was simply bad execution. In this day and age, with social media and rapid news publishing, many high profile CEOs have been shown the door in public, unceremonious ways.

“The real problem isn’t the high-concept boners the boffins love to talk about. It’s bad execution. As simple as that: not getting things done, being indecisive, not delivering on commitments. We base our conclusions on careful study of several dozen CEO failures we’ve observed over the decades – through our respective work as a consultant to major corporations and as a journalist covering them. The results are beyond doubt,” wrote the authors while justifying their estimation that 70% of failures are a result of poor execution.

Operational vs. strategic leadership
A white paper by Development Dimension International (DDI), a company who has been specialising in building better leadership, explains why many leaders fail to successfully transition from operational leaders, whose primary role is to manage day-to-day business operations, to key leadership positions where long-term strategic results are the primary focus. One of the greatest barriers is the lack of knowledge regarding the roles that strategic leaders need to assume at this level. The fact that a leader has been successful in their functional or operational role doesn’t necessarily prime them on how to think and act strategically in order to grow the business, gain acceptance and execute strategies to achieve desired business results.

According to DDI, the nine key strategic leadership roles are as follows:
•    Navigator: Efficiently working through complex key challenges and opportunities to affect action
•    Strategist: Developing a long term mission and shorter, measurable goals to achieve the desired result
•    Entrepreneur: Identifying new products, services and markets that could benefit the business
•    Mobiliser: Proactively aligning stakeholders, resources and capabilities to solve complicated challenges or achieve goals
•    Talent advocate: Retaining, developing and attracting talent to ensure that people with the right skills and motivations to meet business needs are in the right place at the right time
•    Captivator: Igniting passion, enthusiasm and buy-in among team members to achieve a common goal
•    Global thinker: Drawing upon diverse perspectives and sources to create a well-informed view that could benefit the business
•    Change driver: Facilitating positive change by creating an environment that embraces change as well as the acceptance of new ideas
•    Enterprise guardian: Ensuring shareholder value through courageous decision-making that supports enterprise or unit-wide interest

Each of these capture important and relevant roles appropriate to senior leadership. Identifying, developing and deploying strategic leaders is one of the biggest challenges that companies and industries face today. While competencies, experience and skills are important to becoming a successful leader that people will follow, there’s also a unique understanding of the abovementioned roles as well as a certain charisma, talent and pizzazz that is needed for a leader to truly flourish.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Harvard Business Review, Development Dimension International and Fortune Magazine for the information contained in this article.