Bud Boughton: "It's not enough for leaders to think creatively"

Bud BoughtonA few weeks back, you may have read our post arguing that business value is determined by the creativity of its people. In the blog, we also explored the stimulus for human creativity, which to us is directly attributable to the quality of management and the quality of leadership.

You may have also seen a comment left on the blog, from Bud Boughton, in which he said (in part),

"Isn't this why so many businesses today are struggling? Inept leadership or the lack thereof is what plagues so many companies. We need to cultivate a new brand of leadership, leadership that is not afraid to think creatively and take measured risks. It is not enough to think creatively, we must cultivate leaders who are willing to take action based upon their creative thinking."

As a form of introduction, Bud has a longstanding relationship with The Fortune Group in the USA as a customer and an advocate. Formally a senior executive of a publicly-traded company, he now acts as a sales coach and leadership development consultant.

We often say that The Fortune Group's approach turns ideas into action, and action into results. As Bud's comment speaks directly to the first half of this – turning ideas into action – we were interested to hear more. Specifically: How can leaders not only inspire ideas but also ensure they're actioned? So in a recent conversation, we asked him to elaborate.

This week we offer some excerpts in which Bud explores his original comment in more detail.

What's the current state of leadership in regards to this issue of thinking and acting creatively?

People give lip service to thinking out of the box all the time. But when it really comes to the rubber meeting the road, it's all about taking action and doing things outside of the box. And I think that's where a lot of people in leadership positions struggle and fail immensely.

If you're going to talk the talk, then walk the walk. In other words, as a leader, if you call your people together for a brainstorming session, say you're going to do things differently and ask for their input, that's great! It will get employees excited and motivated. But all too often leaders allow their people to leave that session and let things go right back to the way they were. Leaders must take the responsibility of ensuring that action is taken – it's the only way to impact bottom line results.

I heard a quote the other day: "If you want to have something you've never had, then you're probably going to have to do something you've never done." That's the essence of what we're talking about: If you truly want to get to a level you've never been to before, if you want to compete more effectively in an environment that's more competitive than it has ever been, chances are you're going to have to do something you've never done before.

Can you offer an example of a company that has failed to take measured risks?

Well, an entire industry that's coming to grips with this failure is banking. For years, especially here in the US, banks operated under the mantra of "build it and they will come." So they blindly built more and more branches and assumed that the organic growth of the market would support their own growth. But with recent regulatory changes that limit the types of fees they can charge and technological changes that have created a demand for Internet banking, the banks have been forced to act outside of their comfort zone. And because they've never cultivated this culture of acting outside of the box, it's something they're really struggling with.

Why do so many leaders fail to act?

The big thing that holds us back from doing something new is that famous four-letter word: FEAR. Fear of the possibility of failing, fear that people may look at us differently. Taking qualified risks has always been part of business and it's something that I think people in leadership and management positions need to consider and find ways to creatively do. By doing so, it motivates their employees and helps them be more productive, more excited and have a greater sense of purpose for where they work.

With the scene now fully set, next time we'll hear Bud's suggestions for how leaders can get over this fear, cultivate an environment of action and how to take qualified risks.


Author of two books and numerous articles, Bud Boughton is a former senior executive and thought leader who as a sales coach and leadership development consultant is wired to do one thing – improve performance. A former college football coach who has sold for three Fortune 500 companies and was an officer of a publicly traded company, he brings a wide range of experience to his clients. An outstanding professional speaker, go to www.budboughton.com for more information.

Posted: 8/2/2011 10:24:17 PM by Andy Klein | with 2 comments
Filed under: conversation, creativity, leadership
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George Hardie
Business has a habit of employing just managers as they fear the leader amongst us.
8/6/2011 1:35:01 AM

Lori Siragusa
Great interview/Q&A, Bud. So many executives have a vision but they can never execute on that vision to make any significant changes for their business. Also, there is a big difference between a manager and a leader. And leaders are quite rare. I'll be looking for the follow up article!
8/4/2011 8:56:03 AM