Creative Problem Solving: Your Role as a Leader

By Glassman, Edward | Supervisory Management, April 1989 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Creative Problem Solving: Your Role as a Leader


Glassman, Edward, Supervisory Management


Creative Problem Solving: Your Role as Leader

You, as manager of your work unit, are on the hot seat. What you do sets the style for the rest of the work unit. And according to some observers, you are interrupted on an average of once every nine minutes. Unless you lock yourself in and tear out the telephone, you will not be able to find the uninterrupted time necessary for creative thinking. But then this may not be your job anyway. Your job is to manage and develop your people, give them the resources they need, and buffer them from distractions so that they can engage in the uninterrupted time creative thinking and effort require. As a leader, are you doing this?

Your leadership style

Research has shown that most leader interactions at work fall into two basic types: task behaviors, which are directive, one-way communications explaining what each person is to do and when, where, and how it is to be done; and supportive behaviors, which involve two-way communications, non-evaluative listening, stroking, and encouraging behavior. The relative frequency with which you combine and use these two types of interactions constitutes your leadership style--and influences the level of creativity in your work group.

Various task and relationship interactions can be combined into four useful leadership styles, each defined by an array of effective behaviors (see page 39).

Style 1. Directive style. Your predominant behaviors are telling, asserting, and modeling.

Style 2. Participative style. Your predominant behaviors are coaching, negotiating, and collaborating.

Style 3. Catalytic style. Your predominant behaviors here are encouraging, facilitating, and consulting.

Style 4. Nondirective style. Your predominant behavior is delegating.

One factor in choosing which leadership interactions to use is the ability of the person in your unit to work independently of you. That is, he or she is willing and motivated to do the task, has the ability and skills to do the task, has a high performance level with respect to the task, and is confident he or she can accomplish the task. A directive style is needed if the person in your work unit has low abilities to be independent.

Adjust your leadership

style

Can you see how this relates to creativity, how you can make your leadership style work for you in encouraging creative problem solving? Admittedly, it is fairly difficult to change a leadership style. Yet to help your work unit be more creative, you need to be flexible and use the skills from all four leadership styles. How can you do this? One way is to add on enough skills one at a time so you can respond flexibly to the people in your work unit. To become a more flexible leader who encourages creativity, you might decide to obtain training to learn how to assert for a more effective directive style; how to coach and how to negotiate disagreements for a more effective participative style; how to listen and respond nonevaluatively for a more catalytic style; how to delegate for a more effective nondirective style; and, of course, how to manage and motivate for on-the-job creativity.

Many managers are unaware that their own habits, productive at other times, can contribute so directly to their work unit's lack of creativity. To stimulate the creativity of work units, managers must form the habit of setting direction, of giving a clear idea of the end product wanted, of delegating within the person's areas of expertise using the non-directive leadership style, and then of taking the risk of letting people set their own goals and run their own business with occasional encouragement and support using the catalytic style of leadership.

Help creativity through

responsible self-direction

Self-directed activity in which intrinsic motivation is high has been shown to help creativity.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Creative Problem Solving: Your Role as a Leader
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?