Leadership with Inventiveness

Authored by: St Constantine’s School: Nefertiti Dogani & Emmanuel Marandu

Good leadership is something that every individual must define based on their values and morals. Some view a good leader as being strong and assertive, whereas others believe a good leader should have humility and the ability to inspire others. When one looks at the paradigm of leadership it defines a good leader as someone who embodies many admirable qualities such as drive, focus, and empathy. However, one quality that many tend to overlook is inventiveness. By conducting interviews within St. Constantine’s, we found that although many students had different views and perspectives on leadership, they all believed that inventiveness is an intrinsic part of it; one that they see represented around the school and believe should be more widely recognized, especially by the new generation of young leaders around the world who are having to deal with new and unique challenges.

When asking students to identify leaders who had demonstrated the trait of inventiveness, we received examples of historical figures who had used this attribute in both a positive and a negative manner. A leader who was mentioned was Adolf Hitler. Collins (aged 17) thought that although his leadership did negatively affect the world, his authoritarian style of leadership and methods of propaganda were technically innovative approaches to oppression which had never been seen before in the world, especially at such a large scale. Collins also mentioned Kim Jong-Un as an example of inventiveness being used in leadership. He referenced the current ‘Supreme Leader’ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because of his current stance against western countries. Collins went on to explain:

Normally smaller nations will tremble at the sight of larger nations. Kim Jong-Un took the approach of gaining bargaining power in the form of alleged nuclear weaponry, causing a micronation to be considered whenever larger countries are making socio-economic decisions.” This is something that previously had never been fathomed, making this a very specific example of inventiveness being used in Kim Jong-Un’s leadership style.

Admittedly, after receiving two known dictators as examples of inventiveness we were relieved when the last leader mentioned in conversation was Jacinda Ardern. The current Prime Minister of New Zealand was referenced as an example of inventiveness being used positively. As a result of her immediate and calculated approach to the COVID-19 pandemic New Zealand felt less of an impact from the pandemic compared to the rest of the world. Collins was quoted saying:

When the first case was reported, she had people in lockdown immediately whilst educating everyone about the plausible severity of the disease. She then went on to provide ‘actual’ stimulus checks so people could afford staying in lockdown, and because of this New Zealand has been COVID free since June whilst the rest of the world is essentially dying. (Collins)

Collins looks at Jacinda Ardern’s approach to a global pandemic as being ‘inventive’ because no other leader in the world had the initiative, or the ability to respond so quickly and efficiently, therefore making her a good example of inventiveness.

The students felt that something that got them to appreciate the importance of inventive thinking was the school’s method of delegating. St. Constantine’s offers an endless amount of student leadership roles, and many of them have vastly different tasks, but one thing that they have in common is the ambiguity of the job descriptions. This ambiguity encourages the students to fully immerse themselves in their role by being inventive enough to define what that specific leadership role means to them as an individual. This allows their styles of leadership to have a very personal touch as it becomes a reflection of who they are as a person. The specificity of the tasks to be carried out by each student leader is also open to interpretation, calling for the students to adopt an inventive mindset and even call upon others to gain new perspectives on efficiently tackling issues and tasks at hand that they probably would not have thought of before.

Ana (aged 17) stated that her role in several different fundraising activities required her and others to come up with new inventive ways to raise money for several different charities.

Being put in charge of event planning makes you look at things from new perspectives because you need to look at the interests of the people you’re catering to. Similarly, inventive leaders have the ability to not only take the needs of their delegates into consideration, but also see situations through their lens as well. (Ana)

Students themselves find that being given creative freedom in their tasks, in comparison to being strictly told what to do, was a much more effective and engaging method of delegating leadership positions. It encourages them to take an active role in their own learning and leadership role. It also gives the students a sense of responsibility. They are accountable for any potential losses or setbacks in a task that they have full creative control over.

As the definition of “good” leadership is open to interpretation many people can be inventive in their leadership style, but in a way that isn’t necessarily in favour of the people you’re leading or beneficial to the task you’re taking charge of. Referring to the global pandemic and the vastly different approaches that world leaders had to it, Benedict (aged 17) observed that in certain areas of East Africa, leaders made the controversial decision to severely downplay the pandemic in the effort to save their countries and citizens from the effects that lockdown has had on less developed countries and their economies:

Though the morals of censoring talk of the pandemic are debatable, these leaders demonstrate inventive thinking in coming up with ways to quell nationwide panic and pandemonium; however just being inventive, on its own, isn’t enough to constitute good leadership. It must be aligned with all the other key qualities that make a good leader. (Benedict)

Even when one identifies innovation and inventiveness as essential leadership attributes, it is important to keep in mind that other qualities such as empathy, focus and drive go along with it; it is important to achieve balance in one’s leadership style.

It is not enough to just look at something differently, because different does not always mean better. Instead look at things from many different perspectives, put them into the context of the goal you are trying to achieve, and use that inventive thinking as a tool to come up with interesting and efficient solutions to unique problems.

In November of 2020, the school had a week dedicated to Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in honour of its large Indian community. There were various activities and competitions, some of which required a team effort.

Lizzie (aged 15) noted that because it was Diwali, inviting the individuals from within that culture to take charge of the activities seemed like the logical thing to do, but the group soon found that it was not enough to rely on the members of the Indian community for some of those activities.

People have a diverse set of skills and knowledge in different areas, at the end of the day it was about us pulling together and applying our multicultural skills and knowledge to come up with new and inventive results that were reflective of our diversity and innovation. (Lizzie)

Cultivating inventiveness and innovative thinking in students, schools, and communities equips them with the tools necessary to adapt to any situation or role that requires them to show effective and efficient leadership skills in both formal leadership settings, and even when tackling challenges in their day-to-day lives once they are out in the real world. By negating inventiveness as an essential leadership quality, we are hindering the development and evolution of future generations of young leaders. The leaders of tomorrow require innovative leadership skills in order to tackle and overcome the challenges that the future may present.


Works Cited

Ana, Collins, Benedict, & Lizzie. (2021, January 26). Understanding the role of inventiveness in leadership. (Nefertiti, & Emmanuel, Interviewers)