The Creative Leader

I’m a writer, a teacher, a musician and a single dad. I’ve never really thought of myself as a leader, but more a teller of stories, a speaker of lessons, a spinner of songs and a maker of rules.

Although I’ve not considered myself a leader, I have considered the subtle influences creative individuals can have on others and the world around us. It might break the mold of traditional leadership, but the creative leader can bring lasting change.

Mixed Media Painting (Detail) by Choichun Leung / Dumbo Arts Cen

Image by See-Ming Lee

The Writer:  Throughout history, great writers have shown that the pen, is indeed, mightier than the sword. From the early canons of the Bible to the four Gospels, writers helped to shape the very heart of Christianity.

Classic books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; The Jungle by Upton Sinclair; and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson have all helped to create longstanding social change in our nation.

The Teacher:  What would Aristotle have learned without Plato? What would Plato have learned without Socrates? What would the disciples have learned without Christ? Throughout history there have been millions of great teachers that wield mighty influence on young minds.

Often, these teachers blend into the background, at times overlooked or forgotten. They don’t seek attention or reward. They don’t stand out as leaders. But without great teachers, there would be no great leaders.

The Musician:  As a graduate student, I studied the protest music of Woody Guthrie. Woody was a rambling man and a poor role model as a husband and father, to be sure, but his music led people to stand up for the rights of the common man. Woody’s music, in turn influenced another generation of musicians such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Bob Marley led enemies to shake hands for peace. John Lennon led thousands in a march for peace. Although we might not think of musicians as leaders, their songs often maintain powerful influence for years and even generations into the future.

The Father:  As a dad, I have to make rules for my daughter. That’s the easy part. The hard part is developing creative strategies to enforce those rules while maintaining a positive and loving relationship with her. I’ve discovered that ruling with an iron fist rarely works and I seek out subtle ways to gain compliance.

Our heavenly Father does not rule with an iron fist, either. He is slow to anger and mysterious in His ways to bring about change in our lives and the world around us. Just as He is creative, so are we. When we tap into our creativity as leaders, we can accomplish great things and cater in everlasting change.

Questions: What have you created to help lead others? Can you provide more examples of great writers, teachers, and musicians that played the role of leader? How can you be a better leader as a father? Is there a particular circumstance you can recall that taught you something about what you’re to be doing in life? Let us know in the comments!

This was a guest post by Dan Erickson. Dan is a writer, blogger, teacher, and musician.  He was the child victim of a religious cult and struggled through his twenties, but came to forgive his greatest enemies.  His first book, A Train Called Forgiveness, chronicles his own story in a captivating fictional format.  Dan blogs about writing, music, and life, and emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in our lives.  You can follow Dan’s blog @  Follow him on Twitter @ and Facebook @

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • My writing (especially on my blog) has been a place for me to creatively read.  It’s always encouraging when someone comes up to me and says “Hey, I read your blog the other day, and it really inspired me to ___________.”  My dad has definitely been a leader to me in this area.  He has to write every week for his job as a pastor, but he also enjoys writing.  He was a huge help and encouragement to me as I struggled through high school honors English.

    • Blogging regularly can only increase both our writing skills and creativity.  The pastor at my church writes original sermons each week.  I think sometimes we forget how much creativity goes into being a pastor.  Thanks for being a part of the discussion, Jon.

      • I just talked to my Dad yesterday.  He is a pastor who writes his own sermons every week.  He could easily preach from his library of past sermons, but he chooses to creatively lead and teach each week through a new sermon.

        Glad to be a part of the discussion.  Thanks for posting here!

    • That’s awesome Jon that people come up to you because of your blog. It shows you’re doing something right that people are recognizing your talents!

      • This is reaffirming.  I think that’s one of the reasons it’s important to comment on blogs.  Commenting provides an opportunity to enter the conversation, and it provides a great opportunity to reaffirm others.

  • DS

    I believe I’m a creative thinker.
    I believe I’m a talented speaker.
    I believe I’m an above average writer.

    I try to collectively use those talents, skills and passions, to better the lives of those I come into contact with through hope filled messages, based upon current reality, and calls to action (regardless of online, in print, in person, teaching, casual conversation, etc.)

    I would suggest that Zig Ziglar and John Maxwell are two tremendous impact people.

    • Great motivation, DS.  Reminding ourselves and others of our talents is essential if we truly want to have impact on others.  Zig and John are good examples.  Thanks.

    • Zig was a well of inspiration. His anecdotes sure had the power to move others. Do you care to share an example of how John or Zig has impacted your life? 

      • DS

        I listened to a copy of Zig’s book, Better than Good from the library.  In it I was challenged to continue putting more positive things in my life than I already was (one very small example).  I enjoyed it so much, my wife bought it for me.  Now I listen to it whenever I want.  Any time I need a little pick me up, I can listen to that audio book.

        John Maxwell re-enforces many of the beliefs I already had.  I know that if I spend time in one of his books, I will not be wasting my time.

    • John Maxwell’s speaking and writing has greatly influenced my life and leadership.

      There is a Inventory Blowout at the Maxwell store, I just bought Lessons on Leadership which has 24 audio lessons on CD for only $45 and it’s usually $199. Now that’s a great deal, they also have other produces at a great price. Here is the link

      • DS

        Awesome Dan – thanks for sharing!  I’m not surprised that we share a common appreciation for his work.

  • What a great post Dan E. Creativity is essential in every area of our life. I lead and allow my creativity to come out through my writing/blog and soon to be coaching and speaking. A author I really enjoy is John Maxwell who writes about leadership. He has a easy to read and understand writing style.

    I think the first and main priority of a person of influence is to lead at home well. If we focus on that then we will be able to better influence others. Great post Dan.

    • I like your point about leading at home.  That’s important.  I’ve also seen the “dog whisperer” comment on how well someone can lead based on the behavior of their dog.  

      I’ve heard a lot about John Maxwell, too, but haven’t read much of his work.  I might have to check it out sometime soon.

  • I wrote two books, a couple of products, coaching, speaking and consulting. The person that inspired me the most is Dan Miller. Great post Dan. 

    • Thanks, Kimanzi.  I’ve heard a lot about Dan Miller, but have not read how work.  How would you describe his overall style?

    • Dan’s been my major inspiration as well Kimanzi. His wisdom, knowledge, and encouragement are amazing.

  • I recently read Stand Out by Marcus Buckingham, and was surprised after doing the profile that the things I thought were my strengths were further down the list – and things I had but a lower value on (like being creative) were at the very top.  This completely changed my thinking about how I perceive myself..and has led me to look for ways to embrace creativity – my blog is one example this year.

    • I think anyone who blogs has to have a creative bone in them.  I’ll have to come the a look at your blog, Tom.  Thanks.

    • StandOut is an amazing book to find out your strengths and how they work together. Glad to hear it’s helped you in how you think! What were your two top strengths areas?

      • The two I would have picked LAST on the list for me – creator & pioneer

        • Interesting. I’m a pioneer as well. How can you implement what you’ve learned from the test into your life?

  • Brother – those are a lot of questions.  Blog type post answer those questions.  But here it goes:

    1.  I lead my family with Godly examples.
    2.  I make time with family and my daughter.
    3.  I encourage my daughter to do what she shows talent in:  She shows talent in arts and music. 
    4.  I’m very intentional about documenting learning moments that can help others.  This is what I learned today at church for example.:

    Among many other things.

    By the way – I really really appreciate the support that you have been giving me on my blog.  That is a great way to be a leader.  I’m new to the blog world, and the support is great!

    As I look through the comments on this post, I see a common thread of support bloggers:

    Tom, Dan E, Dan B, Kimanzi, (DS – I think) have all given my great support.  Thank you all!

    • Awesome Todd. Looks like you’re doing a terrific job raising your daughter Todd. She’s getting much needed attention AND time from you. And you’re encouraging her to be creative. Keep up the good work!

      • The bride and I are having a blast raising her for sure!

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