Imagination and Leadership

Many of our greatest leaders can attribute their success to the creative use of their imagination. Without it, we probably wouldn't have some of the greatest inventions of our modern world. Most of these leaders saw a problem and imagined a solution, or perhaps they saw an opportunity to enhance something already invented. These distinguished individuals reached their full potential by using their minds, and the good news is that you can do it, too.

Imagination in the professional world comes more naturally to some industries than others, but that doesn't mean every profession can't benefit from it. Even lawyers can use imagination to find loopholes or evoke a particular emotion with their choice of vocabulary and structure of words. Of course, we see more use of the imagination in creative industries, such as art, entertainment, marketing, and engineering. Without the ingenuity of Jørn Utzon, we wouldn't have the famous Sydney Opera House in Australia, a spectacular piece of architectural design that was recently declared a world heritage site. Steve Jobs, a founder of Apple, was known for using his imagination to generate new ideas out of old ones. He also served on the board of directors for The Walt Disney Company, and Walt Disney himself used his imagination to redefine the entertainment industry.

Incorporating more imagination into your workplace or within your team can bring massive benefits. The use of our visionary mind can help us face ordinary situations with grace and efficiency. Successful leaders have learned to look at the world through a unique eye that aspires to see the larger picture, and they do so by consciously switching their viewpoint.

Great leaders look at projects from a new perspective

Rather than looking at an idea as 1 + 2 = ?, they try ? + ? = 3 instead. This shifts the thought process from "What is the solution?" to "How do I get to the solution?"

Successful leaders see failure as research, and they're never afraid of it.

Failure is simply an opportunity to improve techniques and practices, and it better prepares a team to tackle future issues. Failure gives us an opportunity to use our imagination to find creative solutions to whatever obstacle is standing in our way.

Imaginative leaders create a culture that enhances creativity.

Brainstorming in an environment where everyone can exchange opinions freely will keep creative juices flowing. However, don't be fearful of constructive criticism. Challenging ideas in a healthy way can help everyone identify what works and what doesn't and promote problem-solving collaboration.

Triumphant leaders interact with people to spark inspiration.

Everyone has different opinions and backgrounds in life, and each has something valuable to offer in a creative sense. You never know what you might learn from the stranger standing next to you in line. It could spark an idea for the world's next best invention.

The best leaders use empathic imagination to put themselves in someone else's shoes.

While this can be used to improve inter-company relationships, it can also improve customer marketing decisions. This perspective of positioning ourselves as the customer heightens our understanding of what it's like to be on the other side of the equation. It allows us to see what problems they could potentially face and encourage us to find a solution. We can sympathize with those who need our assistance and discover creative ways to support them.