TED Conversations

Thomas Brucia

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

Are creativity and leadership overrated?

Isn't the ability to follow instructions equally important as being creative? The world is dependent on millions who do things over and over again: accountants, repairmen, farmers, and so on. The wages of innovation can often be dismissal or disaster -- whereas the rewards of doing one's job are significant. So too with 'leadership': leaders must always be a tiny minority, because without followers, they are nothing...... Or am I missing something?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 16 2011: I worked in a firm for many years where the (very experienced!) employees would experience problems, discuss possible solutions, and then (if possible) just implement them. Where management was needed -- usually to provide resources -- someone would go to them, explain the situation, outline the possible solutions, tell the manager(s) what the consensus was and then explain what was needed to implement the solution. Since most of the time management didn't have a clue that there even was something that needed fixing and since they had zero ideas about what to do, it was usually not that hard to get management to sign off on our 'recommendations'. I have told folks about how strange -- at first -- and how nice -- later on -- to work at a company that was 'managed from below'. (Of course the strategic decisions came from the top: markets to be addressed, financial record keeping, construction and expansions, etc). One of the greatest benefits was that we had very few meetings (one or two a year) and in my area (sales) we went years without any 'formal' meetings. Coordination was usually just sticking your head in someone's office and asking, "Hey, can I talk to you about something for three or four minutes?" The answer was invariably "Well, I'm pretty busy, but if you can keep it short, I guess so" or "Can you see me in two hours?" I stayed there for 17 years. We had very, very little turnover!
    • thumb
      Nov 17 2011: Interesting Thomas, little turnover in human capital or revenue?
      • thumb
        Nov 17 2011: Ha! I keep forgetting the British use of the word... Human capital! Actually, the firm has (for years) moved slowly ahead of its competitors through a combination of integrity, reputation, intense concentration on 'keeping promises', and ignoring the short-term in favor of the long term. When folks plan to stay 10, 20, or 30 years, they all tend to focus further out and act strategically rather than get sucked into tactical distractions and traps.
        • thumb
          Nov 17 2011: Creativity/ Innovation is about taking new ideas through to satisfied customers (internal or external) and good leaders make this happen. Creativity happens at all levels (follower or Leader) I would say emphatically both are lifeblood of any organization today. The accounting profession is currently talking about International Integrated Reporting, It is about focusing on business sustainability against a back drop of short-term-ism tendencies which has proved disastrous in the current economic environment. This is a good example of innovation and leadership on the part of the team that is selling this idea.
    • thumb
      Nov 18 2011: Your company's upper management indeed believed in empowering its people. That's a good example of leadership. A successful leadership is even when the leader leaves, the followers are empowered enough to take responsibility, choose better and take better decisions. Or else these people are simply "influential." And we all know even a bad person has his/her influence.
      • thumb
        Nov 18 2011: Interesting points, Tanzi! In fact upper management did/does believe in empowering its people. More than once both they -- at the top -- and us -- at the bottom -- realized that we both felt the same way about our clueless middle managers. We both pretended to respect the 'clueless middle'....

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.