Creative Leadership: Why You Need To Think Outside The Box


People emerge or are elected as leaders in nearly every aspect of our lives, both personal and professional. While leadership does come in many ways, shapes, and forms, there are some people who go above and beyond when it comes to being a creative, inspiring leader. Thinking outside the box when it comes to your leadership style can be the difference in becoming a successful leader or one that people don’t look up to.

I would venture to say that many of us are somewhat immune to conventional leadership styles. That’s not to say that traditional approaches to leadership or management are totally ineffective. But taking the time to think about your leadership strategy and incorporate some ideas that are a little different can really affect those that you lead in a positive way.

While thinking about what to write about for the blog today, I came across an interesting article on Forbes that talked about taking leadership lessons from the military. Now you may be thinking, it doesn’t get more traditional than the military, which I happen to agree with. But not many of us use military-style leadership in our everyday lives, right? So you and your cohorts may not be as familiar with them.

Take a look at some of the military-style leadership tactics that could be effectively implemented as a measure to do things a little differently:

1. Be-Know-Do
This phrase has actually been a common military term since the end of the Cold War. So what does be-know-do mean to leadership? The idea is that leaders should exemplify what they want to see in their subordinates (be).

They should also strive to gain any and all knowledge that can be passed on (know). Leaders are also challenged to implement any changes (do). Be-know-do has also been adapted into a best-selling book.

2. Acknowledging specialties
In the military, being a specialist means a number of things. In the civilian world, being a specialist tends to mean that you have expertise in one area. This can be a great thing for the job world – we need people who know what they are doing. But the military leadership styles also suggest that it’s important to take the time to appreciate generalists – people who do a little bit of everything.

While it’s easy to give people who are excelling at a specialty a pat on the back, don’t forget to acknowledge those who really make the working world go round; people who pick up a little bit of slack from everyone.

3. Practice personal discipline
When the article that I read mentioned discipline, I balked at relating the concept to leadership in the business world, because typically disciplining of employees is not done by a manager these days, it’s pushed on to the HR department.

But as I read further, the article explained that practicing good personal discipline, like keeping a schedule, being on time, keeping a good personal routine, and having good sleep habits can help leaders to be more effective.

4. Tackle problems head-on
Is your leadership style to don your rose-colored glasses and think that everything is going well even when it might not be? A more unique leadership strategy would be to acknowledge when things aren’t going as well as you hoped they might.

Confronting reality rather than painting a more positive picture can help you to gain respect in the eyes of your employees.

Creative leadership and thinking outside of the box are things that all of us in leadership positions should take under consideration. It can make all the difference in being a successful leader and a failed leader.

Do you have any suggestions on how to be a creative leader?

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Tanveer Naseer is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed leadership writer and keynote speaker. He is also the Principal and Founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with executives and managers to help them develop practical leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development. Tanveer’s writings and insights on leadership and workplace interactions have been featured in a number of prominent media and organization publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, Inc Magazine, Canada’s national newspaper “The Globe and Mail”, The Economist Executive Education Navigator, and the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.

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