What Is Creative Leadership And Why Do We Need It?

Take a class!

Trisha Bauman, M.S.
Adjunct Faculty, Master of Arts in Sustainable Design  

Any quick review of today’s media headlines or a social timeline leaves little ambiguity: we are navigating overwhelming challenges around the world. While history shows that we have  traversed many global crises of daunting proportions, today’s challenges are uniquely  characterized by a potent nexus—rapidly increasing complexity, volatility, uncertainty, and  ethical implications. The contributing factors are multifold, such as accelerating transformation in technology, the climate emergency, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, increasing  wealth disparity, and enduring social injustices.  

One especially disturbing and highly consequential challenge of the rapid technological  transformation underway is that it has contributed to the growing wealth disparity. Coupled with the climate crisis, this creates a multiplier effect leaving marginalized communities even more vulnerable to the disproportionate impacts of the climate emergency, food scarcity, and inadequate access to clean water. 

To lead effectively in this complex and volatile context, leaders of organizations of all sizes need to leverage skills, experience, and resources that were previously under-appreciated or even unrecognized. These skills include an ability to recognize patterns across interconnected systems, emotional intelligence, social insight, creative agility, inclusive collaboration across diverse identities and communities, and an ability to foster shared purpose across those diverse  populations. 

This is where creative leadership offers a unique opportunity for positive change. While there are varying definitions of creative leadership, most consider it to be the capacity for collaborative innovation to meet structurally complex and dynamic challenges.  

A central characteristic of creative leadership is the capacity to cultivate and integrate emergent thinking. In other words, a team’s diversity of perspectives, ideas, and creative insights can co-create valuable innovation. We need all hands on-deck to meet the issues confronting us. Numerous peer-reviewed studies now demonstrate that certain resources and tools can help leaders to develop this collaborative potential of diverse and inclusive teams. These are the  resources of creative leadership. 

For Spring 2022, I’ll be teaching a course, Creative Leadership, in the Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program (MASD). The course brings you through the fundamentals of leadership as  well as the skills specific to today’s challenges. You will dive into valuable expert insights, videos, textual resources, as well as exercises of personal reflection, peer-to-peer learning, creative expression, and applied, IRL problem-solving.

While the course is designed for current MASD degree students, it is open to MCAD’s Continuing Education students as well. For those curious about MCAD’s Master of Arts in  Sustainable Design, this is a great opportunity to get a better sense of what we offer. Hope you will join us! 

image:  Photo: Ryoji Iwata | unsplash