Fostering creativity and innovation in the workplace: 11 keys for leading and managing teams

Creativity and Innovation are critical to the success, resilience, and long-term survival of your organization.  Learn to build the skills for creativity and innovation in your workplace.

  1. Create psychological safety in your team. Google re:Work’s internal study on teamwork found the most significant influence on team success is psychological safety, which is how comfortable team members are in sharing ideas and being vulnerable with one another.
  2. Embrace diversity in gender, expertise, thinking styles, strengths, and ethnicity to ensure more breadth and depth in generating ideas and finding solutions.
  3. Cultivate healthy team dynamics.  The Google re:Work study identified five key predictors of successful teams in addition to psychological safety: dependability, structure and clarity, the meaning of work, and impact of work.
  4. Create alignment. Establishing a shared vision and strategy for the team. Focus your creative efforts on an area in alignment with organizational objectives in which you have control, ie, creating value for your customers.
  5. Empower your team. Have the courage to make the shift from command-and-control style leadership and micromanaging to one that is more collaborative, when you want to elicit creativity from others.
  6. Lead through Socratic inquiry. In other words, lead by asking questions, not providing answers. Give people clear objectives and let them figure out to achieve them. Give them time to think through situations, look at the big picture, bounce ideas off of peers, and experiment with possibilities. Re-frame questions so they are focused on desired outcomes, rather than problems. What are you trying to accomplish?
  7. Invite creative inquiry.  Try these quick questions to spur creative thinking:
    What if…? Explores possibilities and invites the imagination to participate.
    What else…? Encourages people to push for alternative answers or solutions and not simply accept the first answer that comes to mind.
    Why not…? Takes away any constraints and frees the mind to explore possibilities.
  8. Develop a “Yes and…” mindset to build on the ideas of others, rather than discounting them. Break the habit of responding with “Yes but..,” when people present you with ideas.
  9. Establish criteria for evaluating ideas and decision-making, such as desirability, feasibility and viability.
  10. Be attentive to employees’ success and personal well-being. Provide encouragement. People need to feel their work matters. Give them recognition in a way that is meaningful to the individual. Saying thank you is a good start. Give credit where credit is due.
  11. Motivation: Research suggests that innovation is linked to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In other words, fostering innovation in your organization is a blend of your people and their values as well as the environment that you create for themThe top three motivators in studies by K. A. Kovach, (over a 20 year period) are 1) interesting work, 2) appreciation and 3) being part of the team.

Learn to build the skills for creativity and innovation in your workplace.

See also:

The Must-Have Skills You Need to Compete in the New Future of Work

How to Identify and Root Out Assumptions That Keep You Stuck


Kovach, K.A. (1987)  What motivates employees?  Workers and supervisors give different answers. Business Horizons

Rozovsky, Julia. (2015 “The five keys to a successful Google team.” Google Re:Work.

Edmonson, Amy, “Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 44, no 2 (June 1999): 350-383.