Develops new insights into situations and applies innovative solutions to make organizational improvements; supports a work environment that encourages creative thinking and innovation; designs and implements new and innovative programs and/or processes.


Creative and innovative thinking leads to new insights, novel approaches, fresh perspectives, new ways of understanding and conceiving of things, and leads one to see the world in imaginative and different ways.   Creativity and innovation represent a core competency in successful organizations that are able to anticipate and meet strategic challenges including change, advancing technology, an increasingly diverse work force, and constant budget constraints.  This is about exploring all options in a systematic way, one that also moves thinking past conventional mental and organizational boundaries. It is using one’s full range of skills, knowledge, and experience to search for and address the complex causes, not just symptoms, of problems and to imagine and pose improvements to the organization.  At the higher levels it means creating a culture and the organizational means that encourage, support and reward innovative thinking and continual improvement.

How do First Appointment Leaders Demonstrate This Competency?

First Appointment leaders model the concepts of innovation and creativity.  They encourage critical thinking, innovative problem solving, brainstorming and other techniques that support alternative approaches. They build teams that are diverse in thought, talent and perspective and invest in training that leads to better analysis, problem-solving, and creative solutions.  They demonstrate and encourage the use of innovative thinking and problem-solving approaches and acknowledge and reward efforts to encourage a culture of innovation and creativity. 

Elements of the Competency and Distinguishing Behaviors


Distinguishing Behaviors

Commits to individual and organizational improvement.

  • Identifies issues and opportunities to improve team processes, products, services, and service delivery.
  • Models creative thinking and problem solving.
  • Recognizes when a situation calls for, or could benefit from, a different approach and explores options.
  • Sets high expectations for continuing improvements to processes, products and services.

Creates an environment that fosters new ideas.

  • Values new ideas and perspectives.
  • Establishes team/unit processes and strategies that look beyond traditional boundaries, ideas and approaches.
  • Challenges others to see new possibilities and pursues different perspectives.
  • Encourages creative, innovative, and non-conventional contributions.
  • Understands the role of conflict in creative processes and manages conflict towards positive outcomes.
  • Adapts to meet changing circumstances, unexpected constraints, or challenges.
  • Leads team/unit to use brainstorming, systems thinking, and other techniques that offer new perspectives, ideas or solutions.
  • Provides opportunities for the exchange of ideas and best practices.   

Encourages and employs the creativity of internal and external stakeholders.

  • Provides feedback on contributions, processes and services.
  • Develops staff to take advantage of creative talent, innovative thought, and personal growth and goals.
  • Rewards individuals and the team/unit for exceeding performance goals. 
  • Employs a broad range of resources in seeking new perspectives, ideas and approaches.
  • Works closely with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that all perspectives and interests are understood, and to encourage stakeholders to make contributions.

Uses analytical tools to develop and weigh alternatives.  

  • Uses modeling techniques, risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis to identify alternatives.
  • Weighs potential solutions and initiatives for appropriateness and feasibility. 
  • Develops strategies for enhancing risk analysis and decision-making skills.
  • Understands the role of evaluation and testing in creative processes. 

Developmental Activities

There are numerous activities an employee may engage in that provide the opportunity to develop this competency at the First Appointment Leadership level.   These activities may include, but are not limited to, on-the-job experience, details, shadow assignments, participating in training as a leader or participant and other life experiences.   These activities provide the opportunity to develop for those dedicated to their individual growth as a leader.  Specific examples of developmental opportunities for this competency include:

Primary Developmental Activities

  • Ask more questions, and be sure you are defining the problem correctly.
  • Remove unnecessary constraints, and break out of your comfort zone.
  • Generate ideas without passing judgment first.
  • Be open to the creative suggestions of others.
  • Practice thinking out loud with others.
  • Attend meetings where various stakeholders are present such as:
    • Project leaders meetings
    • County and community meetings
    • Project meetings
    • Public meetings
  • Work on a community or professional committee.
  • Volunteer to take the lead on a challenging project.

Supporting Developmental Activities

Experiential Developmental Details or Assignments

  • Conduct brainstorming meetings and sessions to encourage ideas from others.
  • Attend and join your local Toastmasters club.
  • Get involved in a mentoring program; as both a mentor and a mentee.
  • Volunteer to facilitate meetings.
  • Volunteer to teach a course or lead a brown bag seminar.


First Appointment Leader Competencies