Handbook of Management and Creativity
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Handbook of Management and Creativity

Edited by Chris Bilton and Stephen Cummings

This Handbook draws on current research and case studies to consider how managers can become more creative across four aspects of their business: innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and organisation – and does so in an accessible, engaging and user-friendly format.
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Chapter 11: Unleashed? Developing creativity-friendly leadership theory

Suze Wilson and Sarah Proctor-Thomson


All organisations, we are told these days, need more of two things: 1) strong leadership; 2) creativity. A closer look at influential leadership theories, however, quickly shows up their focus on leaders as the movers and shakers who drive new initiatives, while the role expected of followers is merely that of enthusiastic supporter. We think these leader-centric models are problematic given that, and as others in this volume have shown, fostering creativity in an organisation entails leaders embracing othersí perspectives and allowing multiple parties to help shape the change agenda. At a time when more and better leadership is sought as the solution for almost every problem, the possibility that leadership theory ñ and its potential flow-on effects to leadership practice ñ might sit in a relationship of conflict with enhanced creativity in organisations seems counterintuitive. Yet through tracing developments in thinking about leadership over the course of the last century, we show that central to the origins and assumptions of todayís most influential leadership theories is a concern to ensure leader-driven control of employees which may be detrimental to creativity in organisations. To the extent that these theories inform practitionersí actions, leadership ñ as conventionally theorised at least ñ may in fact be a problem if our aim is to enhance creativity in organisations, rather than the solution we normally take it to be.

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