Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inspired Minds at LRGS (Part 2): Creating Creative Leaders

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of creative leadership. In a recent survey of 1500 CEOs conducted by IBM, a majority identified creativity as the most important characteristic for a leader to possess.

For anyone who has ever been at the helm of a large organization, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The world is increasingly complex, and the problems that we will face in the coming decades will be nearly impossible to anticipate. We need leaders who can turn on a dime and use what is available to them to construct successful, innovative solutions.

This is one of the many reasons that I’m such a proud supporter of the InspirUS program at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. As I’ve mentioned many times before, InspirUS is a 10-week educational program for gifted students. It emphasizes creative thinking, problem-solving and understanding over rote memorization.

As we often say in the InspirUS program, the world needs more innovative leaders and creative thinkers, not more trivia experts.

This philosophy is becoming more widely adopted across Europe. In fact, 2009 was designated “The European Year of Creativity and Innovation,” by the European Union. The initiative aimed “to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development.”

Sadly, the United States has been slow to institutionalize creativity initiatives in its education system. And it certainly shows.

Newsweek recently drew attention to the “creativity crisis” in the United States. In fact, a look at the results of E. Paul Torrance’s well-known creativity test – or “CQ test” – reveals a startling downward trend. According to Newsweek:

“Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. ‘It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,’ Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America – from kindergarten through sixth grade – for whom the decline is ‘most serious.’”

Many of the professions that today’s younger generations will have don’t even exist yet. Which is why it’s so important to ensure that young men and women are versatile, confident thinkers who bring originality and insight to everything they do. That’s the goal of InspirUS, and it should be the goal of every school around the world.