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Individual Reflective Essay: Perspectives in Creative Leadership


In this essay, I will examine the strengths and shortcomings of my creative leadership skills as a result of my experience leading a group project at the university. Because my position was equal to that of my teammates, I had a difficult time mentoring their performances and ensuring their active participation in group work. As a result, the objective of this discussion is to explore such obstacles and important areas of improvement in my leadership attributes in order to become a successful leader in the future. This paper also includes a case study for individuals interested in implementing cross-cultural leadership. In addition, the essay structure is based on Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle and Ash, Clayton, and Moses’ (2009) critical reflection model for critical reflection. Premised on this, I have decided to implement transformational leadership style qualities in order to successfully lead future group projects, and I have presented an action plan at the end to acquire and develop such leadership qualities in my behaviour.

Description of Experience

Stage 1: Description of the Event

We had to create a creative presentation on marketing for a university group project. My group and I joined together to apply our creative skills to finish the presentation, which included participants from many countries. Because I was in charge of the group, I assigned many responsibilities and roles to all of the members in order to avoid confusion and group problems. In light of this, I worked hard to combine various activities in order to better position members in various roles and to make use of their creative qualities and skills as a valuable resource for the project. As a leader, I thought that bringing the appropriate people together at the right time was critical to producing creative work. By providing some helpful guidance, I attempted to strike a balance between members’ abilities and the jobs they were assigned.

Notwithstanding the explicit assignment of work, the members used their own working habits based on their individual cultural values, as a result of which one of the members, Juliet, delayed her job, causing others to be burdened at the final submission. Because task allocation and directions are more useful for work completion, this is the case. However, in order to produce creative work, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the subject. Rather than adopting pre-determined techniques, members should cultivate their active imagination to achieve creative results. According to social identity theory, the motivational and cognitive mechanisms of multicultural persons influence their challenges and benefits in social, personal, and even task-related circumstances (Herbin, 2015). I did not include my team members in task assignments and did not inquire about their interest in selecting their task, which made it difficult for them to come up with creative solutions. As a result, leading the group project became quite difficult for me.

Stage 2: Feelings

I collaborated on this group project alongside John and Juliet, whose names have been changed to protect their identities. Juliet was British, whereas I and John belonged to the Chinese culture. As stated by Molinsky and Gundling (2016), motivating individuals to perform at their best is critical to completing creative work. As a result, I felt that the majority of my time was spent facilitating collaboration and organizing a good work environment to motivate the members, which was extremely frustrating for me. I believe that the biggest source of tension in our cross-cultural group work was a lack of social relationships among the participants. Working in this cross-cultural group work has taught me that people from different cultures act differently, therefore, understanding group dynamics and improving connections with my team members is critical.

According to Mumford (2003), creativity is the ability to generate useful and unique ideas. As a result, I needed to work with members to come up with the greatest innovative solutions by merging everyone’s thoughts. An effective leader, on the other hand, is one who creates a shared purpose while allowing individuals to use their various skills (Gassmann, 2001). I am the type of person who goes above and beyond on tasks in order to achieve greater results. I did not give team members a reasonable opportunity to be creative since I steered them toward a specific technique, which Juliet did not like and caused her portion to be messed up. However, we completed the job on time by routinely coordinating with one another, and I am pleased with the team’s ability to work together despite our diverse backgrounds. We could have done a better job with the presentation.

Generally, I felt that the concept of group creativity did not work well in our real-world group practice, and as a result, the group split up, with some putting more effort into catching up on others’ delays. As an intuitive thinker, I believe that what I did wrong was spend too much time focusing on topics for days or hours at a time. Intuitive thinkers, according to Root-Bernstein and Root-Bernstein (2003), make up a small percentage of the population and typically understand and interpret things differently than those with whom they engage. As a result, I believe that being an intuitive thinker was one of my greatest obstacles while managing the multicultural team, as I tried to impose my views and ideas on others while ignoring their input.

Examination of the Experience

Stage 3 & 4: Evaluation and Analysis

Puccio, Mance, and Murdock (2010) define creative leadership as intentionally engaging people’s imaginations to define and guide the group toward new goals. Additionally, creative leaders place an emphasis on members’ conscious cognition and mind (Amabile, 1988; Amabile and Khaire, 2008). To encourage members to think more clearly, I tried to restrict their attention by assigning them precise goals to meet. I expected to gain active participation and engagement in project work by directing members through predetermined concepts and actions. Nevertheless, because conscious thought engages people in only one subject at a time, it allowed me to collect just convergent suggestions from members on marketing tactics in the presentation. On the other hand, unconscious thinking permits you to keep thinking about the work while focusing on different areas. It is because unconscious thinking emerges from the bottom up when a person is not forced to think in a specific way dictated by the leader, but instead is free to offer more diverse alternatives (Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, 2006). As a result, I missed out on taking advantage of unconscious thinkers, who can think more actively and would have made more creative marketing proposals in the group work, while restricting members’ talks in a predetermined notion.

Positive mood, I believe, plays an important part in increasing people’s contentment with their jobs. As a result, I decided to hold one-on-one sessions with the members in various locations, such as cafes and parks, in try to improve their attitudes toward group work. One of my important ideas for coming up with fresh ideas was to use members’ positive moods. Even I told them that their efforts will be recognized in front of other members. However, I discovered that one of the members, Juliet, had bad feelings about the group’s beliefs and wanted to change them. I was unable to persuade her to take my advice due to cultural differences and a language barrier. Although managers have typically prioritized activities and assigned them to employees, ensuring job completion, the creative output is dependent on the ideas of the members (Amabile, 2011). As a result, active participation and interest on the part of members is critical to the development of creativity.

The group project taught me about the effects of happy and negative emotions on creativity. It is because I discovered Juliet was adversely evaluating the group effort, and when she realized it would be difficult for her to persuade the group members to embrace her solutions, she went all out to figure out what might be changed to make the presentation more innovative. John and I fought with her about her tardy contribution to the group effort during one meeting. This infuriated her, and she made a concerted effort to come up with truly innovative marketing ideas. According to George and Zhou (2002), when perceived reward and acknowledgment for creativity are strong, negative moods are more closely connected with creativity than positive moods. Negative moods also convey information about problems in the task environment, motivating team members to change things (Kaufmann, 2003; Schwarz, 2002; George and Zhou, 2002). As a result, I now feel that leaders may encourage innovation among their followers by creating a negative environment filled with difficult tasks and constraints.

When I assess my leadership style, I discover that it is more closely aligned to the pseudo transformational leadership pattern. During module learning, I discovered that this leadership style allows leaders to transform situations in a bad way by focusing on their own interests while ignoring the interests of followers (Bass and Riggio, 2006). Similarly, I made the error of believing that strong leadership was necessary for progressive growth and, as a result, adopted a phony transformational style. I think of myself as a creative and capable leader, but after managing the project, I have realized that I need to work on myself. It is because, on the one hand, I tried my hardest to finish the presentation creatively in the time allotted, but on the other hand, the effort lacked equitable participation from all members. One of the members’ work was incomplete due to my control over the situation and pressure on others to follow my decisions. According to Delegach et al. (2017), if group members disagree with the leader and are uncommitted to the work, it leads to additional excuses and a lack of involvement. As a result, commitment may secure active engagement of members, which I was unable to do using the pseudo transformational technique.

Stage 5: Conclusion

In an attempt to regulate task procedures and directional guidance, I really spent much of my time talking, organizing meetings, and one-on-one discussions with members to encourage them to be creative, as summarized in the following reflective analysis. While doing so, I focused on encouraging them to think positively about the established work patterns and to carefully consider how to put the tactics into action in order to complete a creative presentation. Members’ active participation and curiosity, on the other hand, are critical for fostering innovation. Also, I have realized that the most creative thoughts come to me while I am in a condition of unconscious mind. Furthermore, rather than positive mood, negative mood is related with persons putting out great effort in developing creative solutions. Leaders can encourage members to be more creative by creating a hostile environment filled with difficult duties and pressures.

Based on my leadership style experience, I have learned that a creative leader should encourage a range of viewpoints, gain members’ commitment, and seek broad consensus on decisions. As a result, in order to succeed in future leadership jobs, I will emphasize taking a more transformative approach to leading the members. Because the specific leadership style allows for open communication, trust, and creativity in real-world situations. Individualised consideration is one of the elements of transformational style, which involves giving empathy to each member (Bass and Riggio, 2010), and thus it will allow me to give individuals the freedom to think broadly rather than consciously limiting their thoughts in a narrow and restricted manner. Furthermore, the aspect of intellectual stimulation will allow me to challenge members’ status quo by creating a negative environment in which they may respond more effectively to the issue and demonstrate their abilities.

Stage 6: Action Plan

Considering the aforementioned reflection, I have realized that there are a few areas where I need to improve in order to be an effective and creative leader in the future, if a similar circumstance arises. One of the key features I have noticed is the ability to motivate and empower members while avoiding micromanagement. As a result, I have decided to adopt the transformational leadership style, and in order to become a successful and creative transformational leader in my future organization, I will learn and apply the concepts of this style in my future university assignments. In my next group effort, I plan to boost participants’ positive growth and inspiration. Furthermore, I will endeavor to create a culture in which members are encouraged to work for the mutual good of all members rather than for their own self-interest. Although I will mentor the members to ensure that they are all moving in the same direction and meeting deadlines, I will also enable everyone to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own work.

Reference List

Amabile, T. (2011) Componential theory of creativity (pp. 538-559). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.

Amabile, T.M. (1988) A model of creativity and innovation in organizations. Research in organizational behavior, 10 (1), pp. 123-167.

Ash, S.L., Clayton, P.H. & Moses, M.G. (2009) Learning through critical reflection: A tutorial for students in service learning. Raleigh, NC.

Bass, B.M. And Riggio, R.E. (2010) The transformational model of leadership. Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era, 2, pp. 76-86.

Delegach, M., Kark, R., Katz-Navon, T. & Van Dijk, D. (2017) A focus on commitment: The roles of transformational and transactional leadership and selfregulatory focus in fostering organizational and safety commitment. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26 (5), pp. 724-740.

Dijksterhuis, A. & Nordgren, L.F. (2006) A theory of unconscious thought. Perspectives on Psychological science, 1 (2), pp. 95-109.

Gassmann, O. (2001) Multicultural teams: Increasing creativity and innovation by diversity. Creativity and Innovation Management, 10 (2), pp. 88-95.

George, J.M. & Zhou, J. (2002) Understanding when bad moods foster creativity and good ones don’t: the role of context and clarity of feelings. Journal of applied psychology, 87 (4), p. 687.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit.

Herbin III, C.V. (2015) Group Formation in a Cross-Cultural Environment. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 8 (1), pp. 22-45.

Kaufmann, G. (2003) Expanding the mood-creativity equation. Creativity Research Journal, 15 (2-3), pp.131-135.

Molinsky, A. & Gundling, E. (2016) How to build trust on your cross-cultural team. Harvard Business Review, 87 (2), pp. 43-49.

Mumford, M.D. (2003) Where have we been, where are we going? Taking stock in creativity research. Creativity research journal, 15 (2-3), pp. 107-120.

Puccio, G.J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M.C. (2010) Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. Sage Publications.

Root-Bernstein, R. & Root-Bernstein, M. (2003) Intuitive tools for innovative thinking. The international handbook on innovation, pp. 377-387.

Schwarz, N. (2011) Feelings-as-information theory. Handbook of theories of social psychology, pp.289-308.


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