Challenge Day 3: Creativity

challenge day 3 collage

“Creativity isn’t just doing art, it’s a mindset,” executive director Lora Wondolowski told the Leadership Pioneer Valley Class of 2016 on February 12th.

That was the theme of Leadership Pioneer Valley’s most recent session: Creativity. The Class of 2016 spent the day at Holyoke Community College, exploring the interconnected role creativity plays in leadership through hands on activities, physical exercises and group collaborative work. The trainer, Izzy Gesell, used improv as a vehicle throughout the day for connecting leadership to creativity. He utilized volunteers from the groups to demonstrate techniques and practices, and then had the groups make use of the terms, approaches and techniques they had learned.

Leadership and creativity may not seem like an obvious connection. But creativity and leadership, the class learned, go hand in hand. Creative leadership is characterized by a few specific traits: fluency, flexibility and uniqueness. Fluency is the ability to come up with lots of ideas instead of getting hung up on the first one that comes by. Flexibility is the ability to create ideas from multiple perspectives, and uniqueness is the key trait of being able to generate ideas that are uncommon. Combined, these traits are key to innovation and problem-solving. They help leaders get out of rigid thinking and allow them to approach ideas in a way they haven’t before. Today’s leaders need to be creative.

Gesell said, “For most folks, the stuck is the stop” and encouraged the participants to persevere and find creative approaches to discussions and problems when they get stuck on a project instead of shutting down.

They were eager to try to do so, and they successfully did, exercise after exercise. The mood was light and full of curiosity as the class laughed, smiled and engaged. It was clear by the end of the day that for the class, creativity no longer had the same meaning. Creativity wasn’t to be dreaded, and definitely wasn’t something that had no place in leadership or business. Creativity was a tool they had been given and now knew fully how to use.

The next Challenge Day is May 20th, and will focus on Skillful Negotiations. Meanwhile, the class of 2016 will be participating in two Field Experience Days, one in March and one in April. The former will focus on Holyoke and Chicopee, and the latter will concentrate on Franklin County.