Good leaders, some experts say, are creative rather than reactive.  In other words, they anticipate future demands & trends and make new products or tailor the ones they already have to suit that future.  For many reasons things are changing very rapidly, these days.  That’s why it’s more important than ever to be able to understand how those changes will affect your business and establish ways to take full advantage of those changes.

Are you creative or reactive?  Here’s how you can test your potential.

If you want to advance quickly in the business you work for or accelerate the progress of the business you own, you’ve got to become much better at starting things, and at making things new or making new things.  In an article in Fast Company magazine (“The Secret Life of the CEO”), Jim Collins (author of “Good to Great”) wrote that the best leaders don’t focus as much on beating the competition as they do on making their own products and services better than they were before. (Here! Hear?)

Creative business leaders are always asking themselves the following questions:

•    What do potential customers really need, now?
•    What worries them?
•    What causes them pain?
•    What would they be eager to buy?
•    How can I make our current customers happier?
•    How can we make the products we sell them better?
•    More useful?
•    More valuable?

Do you ask yourself these questions?  Regularly?  And if you do, do you come up with not just good, rather great answers, answers that can advance your business?  Test your creative skills against the following checklist printed in a recent issue of Executive Leadership.

Ask yourself…are you:

•    internally driven
•    focused on the work, not politics
•    goal-oriented around, rather than crisis-centered
•    good relationship builder

Ask yourself…do you:

•    make full use of your strongest talents
•    set aggressive long-term goals

The above are all characteristics of creative leaders.  Here are the traits of “reactive” leaders.  They generally:

•    are motivated by external factors like money and power
•    are focused on corporate politics, not the work
•    allow their time to be dictated by what’s in their inbox
•    sometimes ignore their strongest talents in favor of “good management”
•    plan in one- to five-year increments
•    they believe nothing is sacred and relationships are expendable

How many of those reactive characteristics apply to you?
How would you grade yourself?

The best leaders are indeed long-term oriented, people-friendly, loyal, eager to provide better products & services, and unconcerned about where they stand in just about any pecking order…either in their industry or within their business.

And that’s something to think about…