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Lead Your Team Leadership

Want a Creative Workforce? It Starts with Leadership

Want a Creative Workforce? It Starts with Leadership
Credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock

The type of leaders you hire can change the creativity of your organization as a whole, new research finds.

The key to gaining a workforce filled with creative employees is having confident leaders, found a study recently published in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes journal.

When leaders feel confident that they can produce creative outcomes, their employees also become more creative, said Dina Krasikova, one of the study's authors and an assistant professor of management at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said.

"It's that simple," Krasikova said in a statement.

Typically, creative leaders have the proper experience to fuel their ideas. As a result, they're more confident, the researchers said. However, the researchers said they were surprised at how contagious a leader's creativity and confidence can be. [See Related Story: Intrapreneurship: Creating Company Culture that Inspires Creativity ]

"Leaders can imbue their subordinates with confidence and creativity just by setting an example themselves," Krasikova said.

The opposite was also found to be true. The researchers discovered that when managers aren't confident or creative, their employees also feel less confident in their own abilities to be creative.

To instill the most creativity in their direct employees, bosses also need to have positive relationships with their employees, focusing on trust, loyalty and mutual professional respect. When a confident, creative leader also has good relationships with her or his employees, it has even a stronger impact on creativity, Krasikova said.

"Creativity flourishes in supportive environments where leaders and subordinates have good interpersonal relationships," she said.

The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing 106 supervisors and 544 of their subordinates at a large information technology company in the United States.

The study's authors said they hope their research will encourage more organizations to hire leaders who offer more than just the proper experience. They should also be confident and have the ability to develop positive working relationships with their staff members, the researchers said.

"Leadership is a very complex phenomenon," Krasikova said. "It's not about whether leaders are born or made — it's about how they use their skills once they get into that position."

The study was co-authored by Lei Huang, an assistant professor at Auburn University in Alabama, and Dong Liu, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.