Whether you're an accountant, engineer, or marketer, everyone wants to be creative. At least that's how Charlie Nooney sees it. "It's the one word most people want some way to be associated with," says the CEO of MobiTV, a white-label mobile media solution provider with locations in Emeryville, California, Stockholm, and London. Here are a few simple tips he says any leader can use to foster creativity at work.
1. As a leader, you must be enthusiastic.
Before coming to MobiTV seven years ago, Nooney worked for 15 years at the Walt Disney Company, where he says to be successful employees really had to embrace the magic. "What we try to do here is translate some of that enthusiasm into our own magic," Nooney says. "There are just certain things you can't fake."
2. Stay ahead of tech trends.
MobiTV engineers envisioned a product much like the Chromecast HDMI dongle long before Google came out with its version. "It was good for employees to see that something we had been working on and will come out very soon, a company like Google had thought was incredibly innovative," he says.
3. Find ways to show you care.
The idea is to genuinely communicate that you can be trusted so your team feels the freedom to try new things and brainstorm ideas that no one will label negatively. "If people don't trust the environment they're in, they're going to play it safe and that's going to limit creativity," he says.
4. Be authentic.
People are remarkably good at sniffing out a fake, so you need to do whatever it takes to become passionate about your company's vision and all the people working toward it. "If you can really walk in every morning and say, 'I'm excited about what I'm doing, I care about the people I'm doing it with, and I know they trust me and I trust them,' then ... all of the other things fall into line. It's easy to motivate people, it's easy to work through creative blocks," he says.
5. Ask for cross-functional input.
You might be surprised what ideas your finance department may have about your product, or what ideas your technical people can offer about marketing. "If they trust you, if they feel like they can fail and you listen to them, they will say it," he says. "If you dismiss their thoughts, you'll never hear [them] again."