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Psychology of Creativity: The Creative Brainsets Model Applied to Leadership Development

Introduction: In “Your Creative Brain”, Carson (2010) outlined, demonstrated and empirically supported seven “brainsets” that are necessary for optimal creative performance and production. Concurrently, there has been a push in recent years to connect leadership and creativity. Koestenbaum (2003), an accomplished philosopher of leadership, put forth, “Creativity, with its source in the unconscious, is the synthesizing function of the leadership mind” (p. 43-44). Indeed, many of the top leaderships and developmental psychology researchers including Hooker and Csikszentmihalyi (2003), Torbert, Cook-Greuter, Fisher, Foldy, Gauthier, Keeley, Rooke, Ross, Royce, Rudolph, Taylor and Tran (2004), Joiner and Josephs (2007), Kegan and Lahey (2009), and Puccio, Mance and Murdock (2011) (amongst others) have studied and developed intricate and detailed models. These foundations introduce creative competencies and skills into the leadership world, fostering a cutting-edge environment in which people and organizations are evolving and expanding through their work and impacting the world in greater ways than ever before.

As impressive and revolutionary as many of these models and systems are, none of them dive into all of the mindsets put forth by Carson (2010) that are necessary for reaching full potential in creativity (and, as will be shown, in leadership). Most of these explorations touch on the interrelatedness of creativity and leadership in only one or two of these aforementioned mindsets. (The exception to this statement is the Puccio et al. (2011) study on “Creative Leadership”, which was more oriented and well-versed on the creative side of the street and touched on at least five of the brainsets in their findings.) It should be noted that this is not a criticism of any of these former works, as all of them are equally staggering in depth, complexity, detail and validity. Each can be viewed as a deep submersion into the particular creative brainset that it represents in leadership. Nevertheless, as creativity and leadership are being linked together, it is necessary to understand all of these findings from a higher vantage point. Carson’s (2010) brainset model allows this view to come more readily into focus. As such, the goals of this paper are to show that (1) creativity is a fundamentally intrinsic aspect of leadership, (2) creativity can be practiced, developed and enhanced to increase leadership skills, and (3) much of the top research (mentioned above) in leadership creativity can be organized clearly and succinctly through using Carson’s (2010) creative brain state model.

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Trevor Tierney