co-creative leadership

Co-Creative Leadership by Steffan Surdek

Nowadays, a true leader has to be open to new perspectives and adapt to the challenges of our times.

Did you know that according to the annual Gallup poll, over 70% of the American workplaces are disengaged? This says a lot about management teams and the leadership they bring.

In many organizations, there is a cycle going on that feeds itself and has a life of its own. Leaders confuse being strong, pushy and directive with “bringing leadership”. Their leadership style actually, creates compliance around them instead of employee engagement.

The cycle started a long time ago, and lives on from leader to leader, from generation to generation. People are so used to it that no one sees it occurring, and no one even bothers to question the pattern anymore.

What Is Co-Creative Leadership?

More and more in the workplace, leaders are dealing with a generation of employees that needs to know why they are doing something. This generation also needs to be able to express their ideas and be heard.

Co-creative leadership is about leaders that allow and hear all perspectives on them. It is not a new way of acting, but a new way of being.

Co-creative leaders are intentional in their conversations as well as their actions. They understand that learning to collaborate as a group, often takes a bit of time. They work through this learning curve with their employees.

Here are the five key skills of a co-creative leader:

1. They are a voice among many in the conversation.

Co-creative leaders help their teams focus on the problem. They can be an active participant in building the solution with them. Co-creative leaders can also listen to the opinions of people on their teams. They recognize good ideas and even build upon them to get to the best solution for the problem at hand.

2. They create and unleash leaders around them.

Way too often, people attach leadership to a title. If you do not have the right title, that is too bad, you cannot be a leader here. Co-creative leaders know that this is not true. They know the leadership of others is not a threat to their own.

3. They build capacity on their teams.

Building capacity in people is a lot like lifting weights when working out. When you start exercising, what you are lifting may seem very hard and heavy. The more you practice and work out, the more weight you are able to lift. What seemed heavy at the start feels very light when you return to it. The same principle applies to teams. When leaders take ownership and responsibility for building capacity, the team becomes stronger.

4. They dance with the system around them.

Co-creative leaders do not manage people, they manage the system instead. They understand a team (as well as an organization) is a complex adaptive system. They can see the system and dance with it by injecting and provoking conversations. They also dance by placing boundaries to steer the system towards valuable results.

5. They encourage their teams to learn by doing.

Co-creative leaders know the best way to learn by doing small experiments. They value to learn by doing something concrete instead of talking about something for days without ever trying anything. They value continuous learning instead of the paralysis caused by fear of failure.

Co-creative leadership is not just a set of things to do. It is a mindset and a way of being. Leaders need to adopt it to empower and to get the best out of the people they are working with.

As one of the ambassadors of the Toronto World Leadership Forum, I invite you to come join us at our event. The forum will bring together recognized international speakers from many different sectors. It will provide a unique platform to innovators and pioneers from over 40 countries.

Whether you are a manager, a business owner, an entrepreneur or rock star performer, this is the event for you! You will be able to share and learn best practices with highly qualified people. You will also learn about exciting and innovative thinking through real-world experience.

This unique event will happen in Toronto on April 20-21, 2018. Don’t miss it!


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