Play and Creative Leadership

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Michal Ben-David, Tutor –  London: Creativity, Innovation and Leadership for Beijing Normal University students –, explains the value of play in some of her workshops.

In general, people understand play as something that only kids do. The common view is that kids play, and adults do serious stuff, such as work and study. If adults play at work they may be accused of not behaving “professionally” enough, as they are supposed to produce results, and not spend their precious time on kids’ stuff, such as play. Nonetheless, I strongly believe in the power of play to unlock creative potential, and therefore I introduced the Lego Serious Play method, to my students from Beijing Normal University, during the King’s College London Summer Programme of 2017.

Lego Serious Play is a unique and innovative methodology, that utilises the same bricks that kids play with, in educational and organisational contexts, in order to unlock creative potential. While LEGO is mostly related to the world of kids, and while kids mostly build models of the tangible world, the Lego Serious Play is a method used by adults, to build models of the intangible world, hence of abstract ideas and concepts. In our workshop in August 2017, we addressed the topic of Creative Leadership. The students worked in teams and built models from the bricks, to represent their view of what creative leadership is. Each of their models was telling a different unique story, and at the end of the workshop, all the models and stories were connected together to create a shared narrative of leadership. I bring here this inspiring narrative, as it was told by the students:

“Our shared identity of creative leadership is based on values such as: bravery, kindness, communication and collaboration. We believe that a creative leader should encourage people’s exploration, freedom, and partnership. We value leadership that sees knowledge as important and helps people to be motivated, by fostering a family atmosphere, a great working environment and an amiable but strict authority. We believe that a good leader should have a clear vision and an ‘out of the box’ creative thinking. While freedom and democracy are important to us, law and order should be enforced by the leader. A good leader takes care and looks after the people’s needs in all aspects of life. While the leader has power, it is a controlled and checked power, which maintains an honest leadership.”

Although I have been a Lego Serious Play instructor for few years now, this particular workshop was special for me because of the sheer authenticity expressed through the stories of the students. While they were ‘playing’ the whole day, they were also unlocking their creative potential and discovering new things about themselves, as future creative leaders.

 

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