Structure vs Creativity

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Last week I talked about leading from creativity and leading from structure, using the backdrop of two recent woodworking projects. Today, I want to reflect a little more.

I truly believe that effective leadership calls for both creativity and structure. There are times where being creative is the only way to move forward, and there are times where maximizing from the steps, mistakes and successes of others has already paved the way.

So, today, my question for you is simply: do you find yourself more naturally leading from creativity or from structure?

I wrestle with a heavy tendency to want to lead from a position of creativity. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I am a thinker. I joke that I spend about 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and only 10% of the time actually doing it. The byproduct of that much thinking: creativity.

I fight against structure. I would much rather write my own Bible study, create my own logo, plan my own trip, or create a new wood working project than try to follow a blueprint written by someone else.

But, if we are going to be honest with each (and why wouldn’t we be honest?), my leaning to creativity is often times my greatest weakness. I suffer when I refuse to ever walk the path someone cleared before me.

Truthfully, I grow as a leader as I wrestle with this tension. Too much creativity, and my mistakes swallow me whole. Too much structure, and I get crushed under the weight.

So, which way do you naturally lean? How do you find balance between creating new and learning from the old? Please share your experiences!

2 thoughts on “Structure vs Creativity”

  1. I’m MUCH more of a structure-first guy. I would prefer to plug in integers into an equation that someone else or I have tested already. Then I know it has merit already. I feel like I excel at contextualizing other people’s ideas to fit into my situation.

    Typically, the only time I have to be creative is when there’s some sort of obstacle. Low funds, limited time, little help, or unforeseen circumstances tend to plunge me head first into creativity. It’s almost as if I’m unable to be creative unless I’m forced into it.

    You’re right, though. A balance is much more effective. That’s why I prefer to have creative people on my team. They help me troubleshoot the obstacles, but more importantly they ask me the “Why?” question. Typically, I’ll have in mind that a situation has only one logical path. My creative team members help criticize (in a healthy way) my tendency to see a problem from only one angle.

    Sometimes I feel like I have to be able to possess all these traits as a leader. While I want to and should grow as much as I can, there are limits to my abilities. Surrounding myself with other people who are strong where I am weak createa a greater impact.

    The real issue for me is allowing people into the planning process early enough for that creativity to flourish. Also, I need to be humble enough to accept the viewpoints I cannot readily perceive.

    1. Great thoughts Eric!

      There is a definite opportunity to evaluate our leadership tendencies, and surround ourselves with people who compliment us. It takes humility, and even vulnerability, to allow someone else to speak into what we think we know already.

      It wouldn’t be a stretch, in my opinion, to look at this from a 3 Question perspective:
      1) What needs to be done? Leadership requires structure and creativity.
      2) What can I do? I’m really good at __________.
      3) Who can I get to help? So-and-so is good at __________, so we can do this together.

      It’s like Bill Hybels says: Everyone wins when a leader gets better.

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