Leadership: The Role of Positive Psychology and Creativity

In our MAPP class today we were fortunate enough to have Mark Templeton, O2s Director of Organisation Development, present to us on the positive psychology approach to leadership development that he has implemented with great success over the past year.

One thing that really intrigued me was the mention of David Whyte, a.k.a the “Corporate Poet”. I’m a huge fan of using creative approaches in the workplace, ever since I took the fantastic Open University Business School B822 course in Creative Management (now called Creativity, Innovation and Change).

So I followed this up, to see what David Whyte had to say about using poetry in a corporate setting:

“Every worthwhile organization is asking for qualities of adaptability, vitality and creativity. And none of these qualities can be legislated, none of them can be coerced out of people. You cannot invite anyone into your office and say I want a 9 percent increase in your creativity quotient this week. The request is absurd because there is no lever inside that person that they can pull to turn on their creativity. If there was one, they surely would have pulled it years ago.

The only thing you can do is to create a conversation in the workplace that will be invitational to those great qualities of creativity that have long been associated with the soul, with a person’s sense of belonging. The main task of leadership is no longer strategic management, though this will always have importance, but of creating imaginative and participative conversations that bring out the best in themselves and others“.

I couldn’t agree more – what Whyte says here fits exactly with positive psychology approaches to developing leadership and positive organisations.

Photo Credit: Cygnoir, San Francisco

3 Responses

  1. Human Dynamics Says:

    Great article – to ask people to ‘be creative’ is an oxymoron.

    However, I do believe we can encourage the conditions where creativity is more likley and frequent, usually by paying attention to the physical and psycological environment. I say this as a tutor for the MBA programme ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’.

    If you enjoy the psychology of creativity and leadership mixed up with a little humour, you might enjoy my book on business leadership ‘tamed’ with rock and pop culture. Cheekily titled ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll – Leadership Lessons from the Academy of Rock’, the book is acclaimed by Tom Peters and available on Amazon.

    Seasons Greetings

    Peter Cook

  2. Bridget Says:

    Hi Peter
    Thanks for your comments and glad to make the OUBS connection! I will most certainly look up your book, though it might have to wait until my MAPP course books are out of the way…

    Keep in touch!


  3. Human Dynamics Says:

    Hello again Bridget,

    Thanks for your kind thoughts and happy new year.

    For some reason I had assumed the blog was a U.S. one but see you are based in UK.

    All the best


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