Schöpfung: Why Creativity is Key in Next-Level Leadership

A while back, I attended a workshop on process and transformation. At one point, I was struggling to explain why I believe creativity is so fundamental to leadership. And then I heard someone use the word “Schöpfung,” (the workshop was taught in German), which loosely translates to “creation” or “invention.” As soon as I heard that word, my thoughts came into focus.

While the loose translation is beautiful – and true! – it doesn’t capture one fundamental element of the verb. Translated literally, “schöpfen” means to ladle or draw from source. Thus, the word includes the idea that all creation comes from somewhere.

Imagine taking your cupped hands and scooping water out of a stream. That water is the source of creation. Creativity is what you do with it. Maybe you’ll drink it, wash your clothes with it, or use it to make soup. The options are endless, and the source is always there for you.

A Models for Effective Leadership

Clients generally seek me out for coaching because they want to be more effective leaders, but they’re not sure how to do it. Often, it turns out that they never had a good model – either during childhood or throughout their careers.

I was fortunate. My granny, Oma Lydia, was my first leadership role model. She would tell me stories about walking miles to exchange pieces of butter for bricks to rebuild her home after the war. I knew that her life had been difficult, and her stories reflected the grit, courage, and determination she needed to survive.

But she also embodied a spirit of initiative, curiosity, empathy, and compassion. She always listened to my thoughts and opinions and never ridiculed my ideas. Instead, she freely shared her wisdom so that I could learn from her and engage in the conversation. Oma Lydia had a strong north star, and she was incredibly creative.

Why Creativity Is Crucial For Leaders

My clients are often surprised by how much focus I put on the creative processes. They tend to think that creativity is the domain of writers, dancers, visual artists, and all those “other people” whose hard work produces tangible results. Creativity, they’ve learned,  is “not for them.” After all, they just want to achieve better results on the job.

What they realize through working with me is that creativity is nothing more than the full expression of an authentic self. And when you can bring that into leadership, you become the source for everyone around you. This is what Oma Lydia was for me and what I am for my coaching clients.

The Benefits of a Creative Approach

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that “Creativity is the central source of meaning in our lives.” Here’s how I translate this statement: using your creativity means using all of your senses, emotions, and bodily wisdom to investigate the big questions of existence. For example: Who am I? What do I want? Why am I here? 

Creativity doesn’t answer these fundamental questions outright but instead gives you the meaning, energy, and mental space you need to gain clarity. The answers emerge from there. When the process is working, it can feel like distraction or even procrastination, but it’s not.

Through the creative process, you give your thinking mind a break and allow your emotions, beliefs, and unconscious worries to become tangible. It’s so much easier to study, understand and learn from something you can hold in your hand.

The best part? You don’t need to learn how to be creative. The power is in you from birth. Sometimes, you just need to dig a bit to get to the water. And often, a little help can go a long way.

Nicole is a creative leadership coach and speaker who empowers women to transform limiting beliefs and bring their lives and careers to new heights.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash