Is it possible to lead a creative team with some members who are closed-minded?

close mindedUnless you’re a newborn baby, there isn’t a single person in this world who is completely open-minded. It’s common that people become more close minded the older they get; hanging out with people who think alike, following the same routines and just avoid getting uncomfortable.

This is what innovators have to fight against; it’s the norm. Creativity is all about challenging assumptions, beliefs and the status-quo. So when it comes to leading creative teams, it isn’t a question of whether or not you have open-minded vs close-minded people on your team; you have both. Some more than others, and you have to anticipate and recognize this.

I’ve been in brainstorms and meetings where people walked out of the room because their long-held beliefs were challenged; they couldn’t stand it and left.

With that said, I recently got asked a good question: Is it possible to lead a creative team with some members who are closed-minded or typically choose self-isolation and not seek external feedback?

Yes, you can. It depends on the culture you’ve set; self-awareness is really key.

For innovation, culture is everything. In traditional led organizations people spend so much time keeping their heads down, doing the same thing over and over again that they squeal when they’re asked to challenge the status quo. You can’t blame them, it’s not their fault; their environment doesn’t breed creativity.

This is likely the case in your organization.  To overcome this challenge, the best you can do is:

  • Set the stage properly. The need for certainty kills creativity. Still, there is a method to the madness; so show them there’s a way to overcome it.
  • Don’t force them to work in a group. Some people get tuned out when working in a group, they’re afraid to being judged, but it doesn’t mean they don’t like it. Rather, let them ideate alone before joining the group. This is actually the best way to brainstorm.
  • Let them know what’s about to go down. You have to let them know what’s about to go down, what’s at stake; it’s that simple.
  • Help them open up. Encourage active participation, don’t let them feel left out.

Leading a creative team that has some closed minded people isn’t easy; it’s the norm. Even Google and Pixar have to constantly battle against human nature.

Bottom line: Collaboration is a competitive advantage. Your organization is living a slow death if you’re unable to collaborate with people who don’t think, act and look like you.