5 Effortless Ways to Be a More Creative Leader Jonathan Herrick Mark Zuckerberg. Elon Musk. Steve Jobs. Richard Branson. Many of the great leaders who inspire us are known for their creativity. You may be wondering how you can be a more creative leader, too. It starts with actively feeding your creative mind. Given the demands of running a business, if you don’t consciously take steps that enhance your creativity, it is hard to unlock your most innovative ideas. Here are a few places to start. 1. Embrace mindfulness. When you’re constantly racing to get things done—respond to an email, finish the bookkeeping, write a report—it’s hard for great leadership ideas to bubble to the surface. Make time every day for a mindfulness activity, whether that’s 10 minutes of meditation or deep breathing at your desk, an hour of yoga, or even a martial arts class like tai chi. It can be hard to force yourself to slow down and quiet your mind when you are always racing against the clock, but that is exactly why it’s beneficial. When you clear your mind and find focus, you’ll be surprised at how much more calmly you approach the leadership challenges in front of you and how new solutions bubble to the surface. 2. Get out of your office. You won’t be able to unleash your creativity as a leader if chain yourself to your desk. No matter how busy you are every week, set aside at least a couple of hours to meet with a client; attend a conference, a business peer group meeting or a meetup—or sit in on a talk about a topic that is totally outside of your industry but interests you nonetheless, whether that’s the history of architecture or 21st century filmmaking. You can learn a lot online, but putting yourself in an environment where there will be active discussion of ideas is likely to fuel your creativity in ways that solitary study will not. And while you’re at whatever activity you choose, turn off your digital devices, so you’re not distracted from participating in the discussion. 3. Throw out the rule book. Many great leaders are also great readers—particularly of business books–but that doesn’t mean they follow the leadership systems they read about to the letter. Creative leaders continually synthesize what they learn, adapting it to their own companies and their own unique style. Adopting a new leadership system won’t work if it seems like the creative new way you’re leading is not authentic to you. When trying a new approach to leading your team, roll it out gradually and see what works with you. 4. Keep the focus on others. We tend to think of creative leaders as being inspiring visionaries who deliver powerful speeches that get everyone fired up and ready to charge into battle. That’s one approach that works, but there are many other creative leaders who deliver results that are just as great by drawing out the talents of their team in more understated ways. Getting to know the people who work with you—whether they are independent contractors or employees—is the first step in motivating them to do great things. Taking time to talk with them every day and really listening to what they say will help you learn what they are passionate about. Once you know that, you’ll be able to look for ways for them to tap into their talents to help your company grow. When people are working on what they truly enjoy, you won’t need to deliver a keynote-level speech at your morning meeting every day to get them inspired. They’ll be excited to get to work and won’t mind it as much when they have to plow through more tedious tasks to get to the good stuff. 5. Find a great coach. We all have blind spots when it comes to analyzing our own leadership style. Often, it’s best to bring in an outside observer for a reality check, given that many employees will be afraid to be candid in a 360-degree review, even an anonymous one. To get honest feedback on how to become a more creative leader, many small business owners find that finding a coach is essential. In some cases, the coach may be a more experienced business owner who acts as an informal mentor. In other situations, they may hire a professional coach who is recommended by other owners they know. Regardless of which type of coach you choose, a coach can be a confidential sounding board as you expand your capacity as a leader, giving you a safe place to discuss any challenges you are experiencing. A good coach will help you get outside of your comfort zone, nudging you to take the steps that are needed when you falter. The possibilities for growing your business will be endless once you unleash your own creativity as a leader. Make today the day you commit to unlocking your untapped potential.