Leadership and creativity: Understanding leadership from a creative problem-solving perspective

Roni Reiter-Palmon, Jody J. Illies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

373 Scopus citations


Employees in many jobs encounter novel, ill-defined problems, and finding creative solutions to these problems may be the critical factor that allows their organization to maintain a competitive advantage. Solving problems creatively requires extensive and effortful cognitive processing. This requirement is magnified further by the complex, ambiguous situations in which most organizational problems occur. Employees must define and construct a problem, search and retrieve problem-relevant information, and generate and evaluate a diverse set of alternative solutions. Creativity necessitates that all these activities are completed effectively. It is unlikely, therefore, that creative outcomes will be realized without a large degree of support from organizations and organizational leaders. To provide this support, leaders must understand the cognitive requirements of creative problem solving. To this end, this article reviews the cognitive processes underlying creative problem solving and suggests avenues through which organizational leaders can facilitate these processes in an effort to enhance the creative problem solving of their employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-77
Number of pages23
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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