Lack of leadership stifles workplace creativity

the spotlight on leadershipThe UK’s workforces are being creatively stifled because of high pressure and a lack of leadership skills, a new study claims. A study of 1,000 workplaces published in Thinking On Your Feet, a report by the commercial arm of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA Business, has found that almost half (41 percent) of UK workplaces implement practises that have a detrimental effect on employee empowerment and their ability to think creatively. The study also reveals that 75 percent of workplaces lack the right environment to enable improvisation to thrive, leaving workers feeling unsupported and stressed.

When quizzed on the things that impact their ability to relax and think on their feet at work, 41 percent of respondents listed time pressures as the biggest setback. Unrealistic expectations (33 percent) was the second biggest difficulty faced in the workplace, followed by a poor workplace culture (25 percent). A lack of understanding from a boss or manager (21 percent) was the fourth biggest issue hindering workers’ abilities to remain calm and respond appropriately to situations, and fifth on the list was a lack of support from colleagues (21 percent).

When asked about the negative and positive impact of leadership, more than half (53 percent) said they disliked being placed under the spotlight in meetings by their manager, yet 38 percent said they felt empowered and relaxed when trusted to make decisions.

Kate Walker Miles, a tutor at RADA Business who specialises in improvisation and leadership, comments on the findings: “Building a workplace culture and environment that fosters successful improvisation is crucial to the success of any business – employees should feel confident in their ability to respond to questions and problems in the moment, creatively, and without fear of repercussions from senior staff. Discovering that such a high proportion of the UK’s workforce doesn’t feel empowered and supported in their place of work, could be a result of dizzying pressures and lack of strong leadership, which could have a huge impact on a business’ commercial outcomes and employee satisfaction.

“The importance of creating a safe space at work for people to contribute original ideas without fear of judgement is imperative to changing a culture embedded in a fear of getting something wrong. Organising a safe environment to brainstorm and having a clear process for moving innovation forward, are key factors that can be underpinned by a supportive management team – aiding a healthy workplace culture.

“The body is one of the most powerful tools we have for moving others, especially when we’re in the spotlight and highly visible to others. We bring leaders, managers, and those taking the first steps in their career into our world, working with them in the way we work with actors to enable them to become more flexible, open and adaptable to solve different challenges in a range of scenarios.’’

Any fixed or rigid position in the body, tends to link to a corresponding rigidity (mentally and emotionally) and other people notice this. Leadership and solving problems requires constant balancing and rebalancing. There are some brilliant, yet simple, techniques available to employees at all levels of business to help them manage stress, think clearly, offer and receive new ideas and deliver to the best of their abilities.”