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Cirque Director: Creative Fire Can Propel CU To Greatness
WASHINGTON (5/15/13)--She's not saying that credit union folks should get up in the morning and put on shocking-colored leotards and tights. But when they rise and shine, credit union employees have every reason to compare themselves to the artists and athletes who hurl themselves beautifully and almost magically through the air on a Cirque du Soleil stage, according to Lyn Heward, director of creation for Cirque du Soleil.

Heward will address a credit union crowd during the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference next month in New York City. Her presentation--and her recent book--are entitled, "The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All."

She brings this message: For their own good and the good of the entire movement, credit unions must make sure they are kindling their employees' creative fire.  It is what will set them apart from the competition.

In a recent interview, Heward told News Now that Cirque is like any organization--in some ways. It attracts both tough-minded practitioners--for Cirque, that is athletes with years of training behind them--and creative artists--who have the same amount of determination as the practitioners but a "broader focus on the world around them."

It is the diversity of tools that these employees bring, she says, that builds a successful operation. And it is any manager's job to recognize that "we are all creative" and to help open employees' minds to the idea of pushing boundaries and "using the tools of the past to build a better future."

And that, Heward emphasizes, is why employees' creativity is vital to any organization.

"We all have competition," she says, adding that part of what makes Cirque--or any organization--better is acknowledging that they are fighting a competitive battle--knowing there are other things out there for people to do, or see, or access.

"It's not what you do now that will bring you into the future.  It's having a vision of what you want to become--see how you can evolve and add to your relationships with members and your communities."

Heward advises that every organization must gear its creativity directly to its purpose: while Cirque entertains, credit unions provide financial services to members.

"Where you really have to be creative is in your initiative to show your members what steps you have taken to serve them better."

It's a manager's job, she says, to take two key actions to lead a creative team: inspire them and acknowledge them. Creativity will not flourish without these managerial elements, she says.  You can inspire your team in many ways, even by simply encouraging them to change things up--eat something different for lunch, take a different route to work, anything to get their creative brains out of their "regular track."

She shares another tip. "Remember not all ideas work," at least not the first time around.  But by encouraging employees to fire off many creative ideas all the time, a manager will have a deep pool of resourcefulness from which to fish at all times.

America's Credit Union Conference will be June 30-July3. For more information, use the link.
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