Bucket #3 – Leadership and Creativity

Master Chief at SXSW

This is the final bucket from the earlier post on creativity.

Leaders should talk last in meetings. Often the opposite occurs. The leader will lay out their vision and say “What do you think about that?” This frames the rest of the conversation. Even if you’re disagreeing, your argument is relative to that vision rather than fresh. Everything is now focused around that vision. I can see how this might kill off different ideas, especially odd ideas.

I can see this as a good idea most of the time but I can also see times when a leader wants to set that vision and have the conversation be about what they want. If they’re a good leader then they’ll likely know when to do this, if not . . .

Reduce “insecurity work.” – “Insecurity work” is all that stuff you do that makes you feel good but doesn’t necessarily do anything good for you. He mentioned checking email, checking web stats etc. This work eats time and interrupts work flow.

I think teachers and admins are definitely guilty of compulsive email checking. Our principals and many at Central Office all have Blackberries and it is an epidemic. I’m certainly guilty of checking stats, email, twitter etc. This usually happens when I have unpleasant work to do. I don’t recall him offering any cures or tricks to help with this but awareness is the first step.

Value the team’s immune system– basically, know when to kill off bad ideas to keep your group healthy. Make sure other people feel like they can do the same.

Judge by initiative rather than experience.– Commented on startups hiring people based on their initiative because they couldn’t hire people with the “right” resumes and their success as opposed to later hiring by resume and ending up with poor results.

I’m sure there’s some of both. I do think that if you’re impressed by someone’s work and what they do you shouldn’t let the fact that they are new impact your decision too much. I don’t think I’ve had the right resume for any job I’ve been hired for, so that could be biasing my view here but I’d much rather hire someone based on what they’ve done than their education or the fact that they’ve lasted in a job for 5 years.

Unique is opportune – I like this part because it echos some of the stuff I’ve been reading on creativity. He basically said that society claims it likes creative people but it doesn’t. Creative people are usually shunned or disliked because they break up the normal order of things. We only celebrate creative people once they’ve succeeded. If Steve Jobs hadn’t made a fortune he’d be viewed as some kind of hippie, drug user that should have stayed in college.

Comments on this post

  1. jeff said on March 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    tom – enjoyed reading this and the first section. good summary, lots of great points.

    question – how do blogs and responding to posts relate to “insecurity work”? i love that term but i’m afraid that what i’m doing right now may come under that category…and likely many other teachers out here are the same?

  2. Tom said on March 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm


    I don’t think I mentioned blogs or responding to posts. I can’t find the word blog or comment in the post. Maybe I’m crazy. If I did put it in there, I don’t think it belongs.

    Email, stats, and twitter are what I think I mentioned- (and twitter might be a reach depending on how you use it).

    At times I will read blogs to avoid work but I don’t think it’s out of insecurity- just a useful distraction that I can justify as a learning experience.

    I hope your arm’s doing better. I taught with an ankle to hip brace following knee surgery. It wasn’t too much fun. Sounds like you’re doing better.