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Powerful leadership learning and current thinking on coaching

Welcome to our book reviews

Take a look at the books that have stood the test of time in leadership and coaching.  

You'll find reviews and author interview clips below.

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Bob Hughes, Forton Group CEO & Creator of the Leadership Book Club

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The Myths of Creativity, By David Burkus

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The Forton Group Leadership Book Club, Myths of CreativityI was attracted to ‘The Myths of Creativity’ by David Burkus, because I enjoy personal creativity and hadn’t thought about how it might be a solution to one of the biggest challenges of our age – complexity. 

People around me can always tell when I’m engaged in a good book that supports leadership development and coaching:  I grab all the yellow sticky notes I can get my hands on and fill the book with them. 

 I ran out at the airport, so I invested in some rather colourful ‘sticky arrows’ to get me through to the book’s end. 

In the author’s words, “Many people view creativity and innovation as vague and inaccessible. Even those who work in the so-called "creative industries” most often harbour a belief that creativity happens through a largely transcendent process of inspiration to which only a select few are granted.

While we don’t believe in the Ancient Greeks’ stories of muses as a source of inspiration, there is still a mythology around creativity – a hazy system of beliefs developed to try to understand what many believe is incomprehensible.”

 

David Burkus is assistant professor of management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, where he teaches courses on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizational behaviour. 

 What I enjoy about good scholarship is that a consistent message is coming out from a variety of authors.  So Burkus doesn’t, himself, subscribe to The Originality Myth.  I’ve read about people like Poincaré and Csikszentmihalyi and their stages of ‘Flow’ or creativity elsewhere.  But that’s the point – our brain layers learning; so hearing about these people from different quarters supports absorption of these ideas.

 David has researched this topic thoroughly, so that we can put creativity into practice today – as leaders and leadership coaches. And to solve some of today’s most complex issues, creativity is a must-have set of skills – for leaders to develop and nurture in themselves and their teams.

 I’m a big fan of the quote from Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is what Burkus has achieved in this book.  What I particularly like is the way Burkus has summarised the blockages to creativity as myths – and then set about busting all ten of them. 

I’m not going to describe his arguments in detail – I thought I’d whet your appetite, however.  Burkus’ ten myths are -

 

  1.   The Eureka Myth
  2.   The Lone Creator Myth
  3.   The Breed Myth
  4.   The Brainstorming Myth
  5.   The Originality Myth
  6.   The Cohesive Myth
  7.   The Expert Myth
  8.   The Constraints Myth
  9.   The Incentive Myth
  10. The Mousetrap Myth

 

 For those of you who know the Forton’s leadership coaching model, it struck a chord when I read about The Constraints Myth: “Lack of resources may not be the true constraint, just a lack of resourcefulness.” (my emphasis). 

It’s so easy to blame the outer world of scarcity – not enough money, time, people, etc.  When what’s really lacking is an inner driver.  As a coach, I spend a lot of time supporting people to see what they have, in reality, rather than bemoaning what they don’t.

And, as a ‘black sheep’ myself, I was delighted to read that the success of ‘The Incredibles’ by the Pixar company.  It owed the success of that animated film to a creative team where friction or ‘structured conflict’ as Burkus calls it, was celebrated and harnessed, rather than suppressed.  Read more in the chapter on myth number 6 – The Cohesive Myth.

It's not that I liked the product so much I bought the company.  What I have done is seen a connection between my personal vision – to bring applied leadership skills to every corner of the world – and this book.  So I’ve bought copies for my international colleagues – to inspire us to achieve a world where better leadership and management is both effective – and creative.  I'm looking forward to some creative conversations...

 

The Vital Edge, by Louis Collins
The World’s Longest Climb by Pauline Sanderson

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