Creativity and Intuition in Leaders: Hard to Define, Important to Possess

Creativity and intuition are probably the two qualities that are the hardest to define but are key to a leader’s success. 

In my last post, I introduced 10 qualities of a leader, as presented by Forbes magazine. The first two that I explored were confidence and communication. In this post, I will cover creativity and intuition.


At Smith & Howard, our values state that we emphasize creativity and imagination in all we do. That might seem like an odd value for CPAs to live by, but putting the challenge out there for each of us to strive for every day definitely sets a high bar for each of us. A leader may not always be the most creative person, but they must practice creativity and as importantly must allow and encourage creativity in the company culture.

A conversation I recently had with a professional in a creative field made me realize how difficult this can be for any leader. This person runs a successful business that relies on creative individuals and new ideas. Yet she told me that people stop her in the hall on a regular basis with a “great idea” that may or may not make good business sense. Her challenge is receiving that great idea with an open mind and reacting to it in a way that keeps that employee engaged and encouraged, often while knowing that given whatever the business is challenged with that day or month or year means the idea has no immediate practical benefit.

Practicing creativity as a leader can be as simple as being open and receptive to creative ideas from employees or as complex as developing and pitching your own creative ideas to other leaders within your business. However you approach it, being open to creativity – whether it’s your own or that of your employees – is key. Without creativity, your business will wilt.


Defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning,” intuition develops over time and with experience, especially if we are active listeners and observers.

Learning to trust one’s intuition comes only with testing it in difficult circumstances. With time and experience, we all gain a greater feel or “gut instinct” on what the best course of action will be when faced with unexpected opportunities or challenges. The Forbes article sums it up well, “Eventually though … you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.”


My next post on the 10 qualities of a leader will cover having a positive attitude and inspiring others. But before that, we will feature a guest post by Caleb Lloyd from Smith & Howard. Caleb has written a post about the importance of hobbies and how the processes in developing a hobby and a career share many parallels.

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