In keeping with my definition of a hypercreative, a hypercreative leader is a an evolved hypercreative person who has taken on a supervisory or directorial role. This individual is responsible for a number of duties in their organizations or businesses, with the ultimate goal being to create value in the form of a creative product or service.

So, what makes an ideal hypercreative leader? What qualities should one possess in order to be most effective in their businesses and careers?

This is a question that I have pursued in my own development as a Creative Director for some time. I found a lot of solid resources on leadership, and a number of good training materials on how to be an effective creative person… but not a lot of specific details with the hybrid creative creature that I was… and what I aspired to get better at doing. 

How Hypercreative Leaders are V.I.T.A.L.

After a lot of research into what people believe makes a great creative leader coupled with my own humble experience, and after personally speaking with other creative leaders over the years, a number of qualities emerged. I lumped these into five different categories… and in the spirit of making stuff as memorable as possible, I was even able to coalesce them into a memorable acronym: VITAL.

This acronym stands these following five major qualities, each of which possess specific characteristics:

  1. Vision

  2. Innovation

  3. Teambuilding

  4. Action

  5. Legacy

Let’s talk about each of these qualities in turn, and discuss the characteristics that accompany them.

Hypercreative Leaders Need VISION.

Many would say that having a clear, cohesive vision is the single most important characteristic of a hypercreative person, and by extension a hypercreative leader. Aren’t creatives, after all, really good at seeing things?

I would say this is partially true… but I’d add another word to it and say that vision plus innovation is the creative’s secret power. But let’s stick with talking about vision for now.

Where I like to talk about vision starts with the role of the shaman. Since ancient times, this special member of the tribe saw things that the rest of the tribe couldn’t see. This special gift of seeing enabled the shaman to give value to the members of his tribe by keeping them safe, imparting collected wisdom, and giving identity to things which the tribe feared. When the shaman saw these things, they became “inspired”, or imbued with power. (It’s worth mentioning that the word “inspiration” comes from the Latin root inspirationem which means “breathe into”… referring to a divine source breathing some kind of truth into the very nostrils of mankind.)

Likewise, the hypercreative leader is able to impart value by seeing things that most cannot. They spend a significant part of their time daydreaming, concepting, and visualising. They are able to look at cultural, societal and aesthetic behaviors and spot trends. They can see around corners and predict what’s coming.

For a hypercreative, vision itself may be enough to sufficiently inspire a loner or self-employed artist. But for a hypercreative leader, vision requires an additional component: the ability to effectively communicate it.

Communicating vision often involves taking an often abstract concept and “pulling it down” for others to see and understand. This requires a lot of empathy and understanding in order to relay the message properly as well as mastery of the mechanics of various forms of communication.

Here are some more hypercreative actions that are related to vision:

  • finding
  • sourcing
  • resource-gathering
  • awareness
  • sensitivity
  • honesty
  • introspection
  • filtering
  • storytelling
  • original thought

Finally, it can be said that all of these qualities of vision can be said to fall under the category of visual intelligence.

Hypercreative Leaders Create INNOVATION.

Coupled with vision, innovation is the special and unique one-two punch that the hypercreative leader brings to the table. It’s when vision gets practical and goes to work.

Innovation is, in fact, the cornerstone of all good business. It’s creating unique value that others want. It’s vision brought to life in some kind of physical or essential form.

Since this can require considerable resources, the hypercreative leader who seeks to innovate also needs to have access to the people, tools, and materials to bring the product to life.

This also requires a thorough knowledge of the mechanics of production so that a product or service can be made out of the vision. The hypercreative leader needs to be well versed in all aspects of their particular field – that way, they can be intimately involved with the planning and production.

When inevitable problems arise, the hypercreative leader also needs to be able to use their problem-solving skills to help fix the blockage. They may also need to break through institutional resistance, which is always a challenge to innovation. The ideal hypercreative leader is a bureaucracy-buster, a cage rattler, and even a sandcastle stomper. They always seek to challenge old ideas that don’t work in favor of newer ones that promise to work better.

Here are some characteristics that would be associated with innovation:

  • improvisation
  • intuition
  • instinct
  • curation
  • synthesis
  • disruption
  • questioning
  • developing
  • productivity
  • process
  • manufacturing
  • formula
  • persistence

The type of intelligence that’s built when these skills are developed is creative intelligence.

Hypercreative Leaders Facilitate TEAMBUILDING.

Harnessing the resources and talents of the people who practice innovation is a core discipline of every hypercreative leader.

Hypercreatives are natural leaders (whether they know it or not) because of influence. For hypercreatives who have been put in leadership positions, their degree of influence throughout their organization dictates how well their vision and innovation are carried out.

Hypercreative leaders are very different from hypercreatives because of teambuilding. While the individual hypercreative is content to work all day in relative isolation on their own project, leveraging their own skills and talents, the hypercreative leader leverages the skills and talents of other creatives.

While this may mean that the specific way the creative work is done is no longer directly under their control, they tend to be okay with this – because they’re responsible for getting more work done. This requires a “longer” view of the work that’s more conceptual in nature, and not as specific. They’re happy that their vision is being carried out in the form of collective innovation.

Skilled hypercreative leaders know the specific roles that people need to fill in the creative process, and they’re able to manage for it. They communicate the vision to team members so that there’s buy-in on all levels. They’re aware of the underlying creative culture of their organization and are aware of the process that needs to be in place to create the best work possible. They know to find and hire people better than themselves at their particular skill. They give credit where credit’s due, and enable their teams to succeed.

In short, they don’t just manage creativity… they manage for creativity.

Here are some characteristics associated with effective creative teambuilding:

  • responsibility
  • coaching / mentoring
  • teaching / training
  • supporting
  • enabling
  • authority
  • trust
  • respect
  • experimentation
  • connecting
  • collaborating
  • coordinating
  • contributing
  • challenging
  • gamifying
  • interests, skills, experience
  • passions and desires
  • intrinsic motivation
  • motivating
  • shepherding
  • roles
  • resource management
  • scenius (collective genius)
  • diversity
  • different perspectives
  • culture
  • team dynamics
  • chemistry
  • collective wisdom
  • environment
  • noble conflict

The over-arching skill that’s required to be an effective team builder is social intelligence.

Effective Hypercreative Leaders Take ACTION.

Every effective leader knows that unless they execute their vision, everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve is in vain.

This is necessary on both an individual level as well as an organizational level. A hypercreative leader is really good at getting themselves up and doing the work that’s required to move their goals forward. (And, it’s worth mentioning they took action to set goals in the first place!) They have the habits, mindsets and practices in place to be effective.

On a collective level, they make sure that relevant action is being taken by those under their charge to innovate and market the product or service effectively.

Deep down, hypercreative headers have a need to validate their vision: “Is what I’ve worked so hard to envision and to innovate really going to work?” The best way to know this (and to satisfy those nagging questions) is to move the creative process along as needed.

This may involve troubleshooting a problem area, meeting with a disgruntled client to smooth over a misunderstanding, or hiring a critical team member to perform a much-needed task.

The effective hypercreative leader knows to “chase down” any problems before they get out of control, and to proactively answer questions before they go too long unanswered. They take initiative, and don’t wait for permission to make decisive decisions they know are right for the situation.

Perhaps most importantly, hypercreative leaders know how to make timely, decisive decisions. Inevitably, they know that during a project they may become the bottleneck, and need to make a decision quickly so that the creative process can continue.

Relevant words that are indicative of an action-oriented mindset are:

  • asking
  • assertiveness
  • decision making
  • rapid response
  • moving quickly
  • resisting perfectionism
  • failing fast
  • lean principles
  • speed
  • progression
  • initiative
  • problem solving
  • energy
  • execution
  • pruning

The kind of discipline that’s needed to perform and facilitate action can be termed Executive Intelligence.

Hypercreative Leaders Strive To Leave An Enduring LEGACY.

Perhaps perceived as the least important of all five leadership characteristics, nevertheless legacy is the most important in the long run.

Every hypercreative leader should have, in addition to an immediate vision, a far-reaching vision for the future. This vision may be for their organization, company, or organization… or it may be for themselves personally. Ideally, it’s both.

Legacy means looking into the distant future and being aware of the long term results of the current creative path. It involves a mature (even meditative) outlook that can usually only be gained in moments of reflective solitude. In this state, the objectivity that’s needed to think about one’s legacy can be achieved.

The ultimate goal a hypercreative leader is to leave some kind of gift behind for the people who come after him or her. This is their beautiful message to all who come after: to take part in this piece of their very life… even after their own life expires.

I know this may sound far-reaching and even unnecessary. I’m aware that you may have never considered a “legacy” as something that was important.

For me, legacy starts with this: visualizing what my end-of-life reflections will be like. What will I ask myself on my deathbed? What value did I bring to the world? What was I able to accomplish? Did I do it in a way that honored those who worked for and with me? Did I express love for those in my care, whether they were family or coworkers?

In taking about legacy we get down to the “why” of our creative pursuits. Why do we do what we do? Any time we ask ourselves these “why” questions, we are getting to a place of ultimate objectivity where we can ensure that our unique vision and body of work is relevant to the rest of humanity.

Words that can be associated with leaving a lasting creative legacy are:

  • Interdependence
  • Love
  • Giving
  • Big Picture
  • Lasting results
  • Sustainability
  • Reputation
  • Integrity

The kind of intelligence that comes closest to yielding the legacy that you want can be termed spiritual intelligence.

What Pillar Do You Need To Build The Most?

Hypercreative leadership is an elusive process. It’s important to remember that these qualities we’ve discussed are just the ideal… nobody’s the perfect hypercreative leader.

It serves as a model to help you in your efforts, however, to be the best hypercreative leader you can be. What areas do you feel like you’re lacking? What disciplines might you need more training on?

As a quick recap, here are the five pillars of hypercreative leadership again:

  1. Vision

  2. Innovation

  3. Teambuilding

  4. Action

  5. Legacy

Progress… Not Perfection

Always remember that we’re happiest when we are making some kind of progress in life. Even if that progress is incremental, and a little bit each day.

Don’t be discouraged… be encouraged. Be energized. Be recharged.

Endeavor to be the best hypercreative leader that you can be, and you will experience higher influence, greater satisfaction, and more success.

All the best,

Mike