10 Business Leaders Using Creativity to Their Advantage

08 January 2021
For the love of art

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way” – Edward de Bono

Creativity is often mislabelled. And sometimes, in the business world, people forget how creativity can impact work each day.

But creativity is more than just producing a physical item; being creative is allowing a person to think outside the box. If you’re looking for innovative ideas, new ways to motivate your staff, or simply ways to ramp up your productivity, introducing creative practices may help.

While many haven’t quite embraced creativity in the workplace, some business leaders have embraced the idea of creative practices. And are using them to help with everything from relaxing attention to detail, focus, and bringing innovative ideas into reality.

Here we introduce 10 business leaders who are using creative practices to their advantage.

Luke Anear – CEO and Founder of SafetyCultureHQ

Founded in 2004, SafetyCulture is a leading provider of OH & S services, providing over 500 Safe Work Method Statements as well as a quality management system, and health and safety management system.

Luke Anear, CEO and Founder, closed his San Francisco office in 2017, bringing the marketing team under one roof in the company’s Sydney office. Anear believes that by having the marketing team working out of the same office as the products are manufactured, maximises creativity and product development.

In a 2018 article for Business Insider, Anear was asked to give university graduates advice about entering the workforce. He suggested creating a side hustle, even if it isn’t successful as a great way to learn new skills that will take you into the workforce.

Anear used philosophy himself, starting his own lawn mowing business at just 12. Business life took off from there, and now Anear runs an international company worth more than $440 million with offices in three different countries.

Suzanne Steele – MD of Adobe ANZ

With a tech focussed world quickly approaching, Suzanne Steele suggests that, especially for those still to enter the workforce, developing and honing in on your “human” skills will be essential for the future. For example, the skills that a machine cannot replicate – creativity, emotional intelligence, empathy, adaptability, and intellectual curiosity being the main ones.

In a recent article for Which-50, Steele suggests that businesses “need a different mindset to source the talent they need to successfully transform.” She also believes that business leaders need to be adaptable in the roles they play and need to think about being “creative, passionate and iterative learners,” to drive change in the workplace.

Dany Milham – Co-Founder of Koala Mattress

You may wonder what CEO’s and business leaders do when they get home to switch off from a day in the office. For Dany Milham, Co-Founder of Koala Mattress, its ½ hour on the piano before taking some time to go over his notes from the day. He finds that it helps to improve concentration, helps to relax and acts as a way to split the day up.

One of Milham’s top business tips is to try something new every day. “If you aren’t, your competition probably are, and they probably discovered it yesterday,” he told Kochie’s Business Builders in 2016.

One of Milham’s top business tips is to try something new every day. “If you aren’t, your competition probably are, and they probably discovered it yesterday,” he told Kochie’s Business Builders in 2016.

One of the most successful features of Koala Mattress is that they believe creativity can come from anywhere and allow everyone in the team to have a voice.

Dan Hogan – Founder and CEO of Medalogix

We’ve all seen pictures from the head office of tech firms like Google and Facebook . There are plenty of creative workspaces that inspired their staff and Medalogix is no different. Founder of the heath care tech company, Dan Hogan, finds that throwing a ball against a wall or building a Lego house is an excellent treatment for creative blockage strikes.

With games, sports balls and Lego throughout the office, Hogan encourages his team to do the same thing when they need to take a break and think through a problem or creative blockage. He told ThoughtPatrol that “just like any muscle, your brain needs a recovery session after a tough workout.”

Hogan also uses creative ways to engage and promote company culture. When founding the business, he started recording significant moments of the business to place on a timeline. He categorises events as either a high or a low and hangs this timeline on the door of his office where staff can see. Employees can not only see the entry of themselves into the business but the history, the journey of the company and thoughts from the CEO.

Hogan says, in an article with Fast Company, that it “brings all employees up to speed and provides a reference for why the business operates the way it does today.”

Alicia Navarro – President, Board Member and Co-Founder of Skimlinks (Content Monetisation Site)

Some CEO’s head off to the gym while others head home to do more work. Skimlinks President, Board Member and Founder Alicia Navarro makes time to read fiction at the end of the day, believing that reading fiction “arms you with tactics to create motivating and inspiring messaging.”

Some CEO’s head off to the gym while others head home to do more work. Skimlinks President, Board Member and Founder Alicia Navarro makes time to read fiction at the end of the day, believing that reading fiction “arms you with tactics to create motivating and inspiring messaging.”

There are plenty of ways that fiction can increase your creative thinking through exercising your brain, making you a better communicator and allowing you to switch off and relax.

Arianna Huffington – Founder of The Huffington Post

“Recharging is essential.” Arianna Huffington believes that when business leaders create a culture of burnout, they are never going to create a culture of creativity. Promoting enough sleep and relaxation should be leadership tools that business leaders both use themselves and endorse to their staff. In a speech for Hubspot, Huffington noted that the bedroom is just as important as the boardroom. Walking around feeling as though you are running out of time drains creativity and therefore innovation. She believes that without life-balance, creative solutions that leaders and workplaces often rely on won’t arise.

Grant Emanuel – Marketing Director (Int) Chamberlain Group

Grant Emanuel brought together the Australian and New Zealand teams of the Chamberlain Group (100 employees) to try something different. He brought the Chamberlain Group’s future startegy to life using art. It was an effort to help everyone understand the values and goals of the organisation. And it worked – it provided an opportunity to talk and share with team members how they can help the company meet their goals.

“Every Chamberlain Group office now has a life size copy of this unique artwork – it’s a daily reminder for each team member of the role they have played in defining our future, and a compass for achieving our goals,” Grant told Dynamic Business earlier this year.

Rob-Jan de Jong – Founder Vongolo Consulting and Author

Meetings can be full of facts and figures but when you’re trying to describe the future direction or strategy of a business, you don’t always have these facts and figures to use. Rob-Jan de Jong, the founder of Vongolo Consulting, believes that using pictorial language helps people “see” the future and see where your thinking is leading.

De Jong believes that business leaders should be providing a compelling vision to the team around them to promote creative and imaginative solutions. However, this can only be done by becoming creative themselves through asking powerful questions that challenge assumptions and invite creative thinking. Using images is a great way to break through to someone’s imagination, helping them envision the future of a business.

Pete Cashmore – Founder of Mashable

One of the most significant barriers when promoting creativity in the workplace is that employees are not supported to follow through with their ideas. Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, believes that to build a successful company, leaders need to recognise the importance of execution. And that supporting the follow-through is just as important as the idea itself. “Having innovative ideas is great, but make sure your creative employees have the proper support to follow through.”

Cashmore believes that the most successful people are those who have an end-goal and a plan to get there.

Russel Howcroft – PricewaterhouseCoopers

Business leaders know that the growth of a company depends on numerous factors. However, for Russel Howcroft, it takes a degree of what he calls commercial creativity to grow beyond the typical net market growth. Howcroft believes that commercial creativity is “the number one tool for brand development, generating demand, increasing your margin and selling more”.

In a recent blog for Managers and Leaders, he says that Australian and New Zealand businesses need to step outside their comfort zone if they want to achieve meaningful growth. He also believes that in a world where jobs are being replaced by artificial technology, the capacity to be creative is what can keep humans employed.

The number one behaviour in a creative organisation according to Howcroft? Respect for ideas and respect for the desire of an individual to put ideas on the table.

If you’re looking for ways to bring creativity to your workplace, or to introduce creative practices to your day, check out our website to learn more about our service.