page title icon The Creative Leader’s Mindset

Navigating Complexity with Innovative Thinking

Cultivating Leadership Excellence

In this insightful episode, Dina Denham Smith dives deep into the intricacies of leadership, creativity, and emotional intelligence in the modern workplace. She shares her journey from classroom to boardroom, offering a unique perspective on how her equestrian passion parallels her leadership philosophy. Through engaging anecdotes and expert advice, Dina reveals the transformative power of rest and mindfulness in unlocking creativity and enhancing decision-making.

The conversation delves into the dynamic nature of brain networks, highlighting the delicate balance between focus and creativity. Dina emphasizes the importance of buffer zones to maximize productivity and the need for leaders to embrace fallibility, fostering genuine connections through sincere apologies. She explores the art of insight, showcasing how introspection and retrospective engineering can propel individuals and organizations toward their goals.

Throughout the episode, Dina provides practical tips for leaders to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, from managing multiple projects effectively to setting boundaries and saying no when necessary. She advocates for subtraction as a powerful tool for success, urging listeners to let go of non-essential tasks and projects to make room for more impactful endeavors.

Listeners are encouraged to embrace a growth mindset, viewing setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. Dina’s wisdom from experience resonates throughout the episode, offering valuable insights into effective leadership and personal development. Tune in to The Fast Leader Show to gain actionable strategies for enhancing your leadership skills and fostering a more creative, empathetic workplace.

In this episode, you can learn:

  • How to cultivate creativity and innovation in leadership, particularly in complex environments.
  • The importance of creating buffer zones in your day for productivity and effectiveness.
  • Strategies for improving decision-making and creative thinking as a leader.
  • The value of mindfulness and saying “no” to enhance leadership effectiveness.
  • Insights into leadership challenges in the new workplace and practical tips for success.

Table of contents

  1. Cultivating Leadership Excellence
  2. Timestamps to Key Moments
  3. Key Tips and Takeaways
  4. Pros and Cons
  5. Memorable Quotes
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. How to Foster a Creative Leadership Mindset in Business
  8. Hump Day Hoedown
  9. Embracing the Creative Leader’s Mindset
  10. Episode Links and Resources

Timestamps to Key Moments

  • (00:38 – 01:44) Introduction and Background of Dina Denham Smith: In this segment, Dina Denham Smith introduces herself, highlighting her journey from the classroom to the boardroom. She shares insights into her career path and the experiences that have shaped her perspectives on leadership and creativity.
  • (01:45 – 07:02) Challenges in the Modern Workplace: Dina discusses the challenges faced by leaders in today’s fast-paced and dynamic work environment. She delves into the complexities of decision-making, the need for creative thinking, and the importance of insights and experiences from others in developing leadership skills.
  • (07:03 – 10:42) Understanding and Cultivating Insight: Dina explores the concept of insight and how it plays a crucial role in leadership and decision-making. She shares practical tips on how individuals can cultivate insight in their own lives and work.
  • (10:43 – 18:40) The Role of Empathy in Effective Leadership: Dina emphasizes the importance of empathy in leadership and how it can help build trust and enhance team dynamics. She shares personal anecdotes and insights into how leaders can cultivate empathy in their interactions with others.
  • (18:41 – 20:35) Strategies for Innovation in Leadership: Dina discusses strategies for fostering innovation in leadership. She highlights the importance of embracing fallibility and the art of sincere apology in creating a culture of innovation.
  • (20:36 – 28:53) Enhancing Creativity and Decision Making: Dina explores the relationship between creativity and decision-making in leadership. She shares insights into how individuals can improve their creative thinking skills and make more effective decisions.
  • (28:54 – 32:03) Maximizing Productivity and Mindfulness Techniques: Dina discusses the importance of mindfulness in maximizing productivity. She shares practical tips and techniques for incorporating mindfulness into daily life to improve focus and productivity.
  • (32:04 – 42:28) Gaining Wisdom Through Experience: In this segment, Dina reflects on the lessons learned from her own experiences and shares insights into how leaders can gain wisdom through their experiences. She discusses the importance of learning from setbacks and challenges, and how they can be transformed into opportunities for growth.
  • (42:29 – 44:04) Top Leadership Tips and Tools: Dina shares her top tips and tools for effective leadership. She discusses the importance of self-awareness, setting boundaries, and taking care of oneself to be a successful leader.

Key Tips and Takeaways

  • Understand Different Leadership Styles: Recognize the various leadership styles and their impact on team dynamics and organizational culture.
  • Cultivate Self-Awareness: Start with self-assessment to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement as a leader.
  • Develop Effective Communication Skills: Enhance communication skills to convey ideas clearly, build trust, and motivate teams.
  • Hone Decision-Making Abilities: Practice making well-informed and timely decisions to drive positive outcomes.
  • Foster Team Motivation and Engagement: Create a supportive environment that encourages teamwork, innovation, and growth.

Pros and Cons


  • Tailored Leadership Development: Helps individuals hone their unique leadership styles and skills.
  • Enhanced Team Performance: Focused leadership training can improve team dynamics and productivity.
  • Greater Employee Satisfaction: Personalized approaches to leadership development can boost morale and job satisfaction.
  • Improved Decision Making: Leaders with personalized training may make more informed and effective decisions.


  • Resource Intensive: Developing personalized leadership programs can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Implementation Challenges: Integrating personalized leadership development into existing structures may face resistance or logistical hurdles.
  • Potential for Misalignment: Individualized approaches may not always align with organizational goals or culture.
  • Measurement and Evaluation: Assessing the effectiveness of personalized leadership development can be challenging.

Memorable Quotes

  1. “Creativity isn’t just about ideas; it’s about the courage to act on them.” 
  2. “Innovation thrives when we embrace failure as a stepping stone to success.”
  3. “Leadership is not about being flawless; it’s about owning up to mistakes and learning from them.”
  4. “Mindfulness isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for effective leadership in today’s fast-paced world.”
  5. “Success lies in subtraction as much as addition; sometimes, less is more in leadership.”
  6. “Effective leaders know when to say no, ensuring their focus remains on what truly matters.”
  7. “True leadership involves engineering your path to success from a future already attained.”
  8. “Diversity is not just a buzzword; it’s the key to unlocking innovation and growth.”
  9. “The best leaders are those who can seamlessly switch between tasks and roles, adapting to every situation.”
  10. “Strategic pauses in our day can be the most productive moments, allowing us to show up fully in every meeting and task.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How can leaders balance the need for creativity with the demands of a focused, task-oriented work environment?

Leaders can encourage creativity by providing dedicated time and space for innovative thinking, while also recognizing the importance of focused work for productivity.

What are some practical strategies for incorporating mindfulness into a busy leadership schedule?

Leaders can integrate mindfulness practices by starting meetings with a moment of silence, scheduling short breaks for reflection, or practicing mindfulness during daily activities like walking or eating.

How can leaders effectively address burnout and promote well-being among their teams?

Leaders can address burnout by promoting work-life balance, encouraging open communication about workload and stress, and providing resources for mental health support.

What are some key considerations for leaders when deciding to delegate tasks or take them on themselves?

Leaders should consider the complexity of the task, the skills and capacity of team members, and the strategic importance of the task to determine the most effective approach.

How to Foster a Creative Leadership Mindset in Business

  1. Self-Assessment:

    Begin by understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style through introspection and feedback from others.

  2. Study Leadership Styles:

    Familiarize yourself with different leadership styles to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and applications in various situations.

  3. Effective Communication:

    Develop strong communication skills, including active listening, clear articulation, and empathy, to connect with and inspire your team.

  4. Decision-Making Skills:

    Hone your decision-making abilities by gathering relevant information, considering diverse perspectives, and evaluating outcomes.

  5. Team Motivation:

    Learn techniques to motivate and inspire your team, such as setting clear goals, providing constructive feedback, and recognizing achievements.

  6. Emotional Intelligence:

    Cultivate emotional intelligence to understand and manage your emotions and those of others, fostering positive relationships and effective teamwork.

  7. Conflict Resolution:

    Develop skills in conflict resolution to address disagreements constructively and maintain a harmonious work environment.

  8. Strategic Thinking:

    Practice strategic thinking to anticipate future trends, identify opportunities, and make informed decisions that align with long-term goals.

  9. Continuous Learning:

    Commit to lifelong learning and personal development to stay relevant, adaptable, and open to new ideas and perspectives.

  10. Adaptability:

    Cultivate adaptability to navigate changing business landscapes, embrace innovation, and lead your team through transitions with resilience and agility.

By following these steps, drawn from the insightful discussion with Dina Denham Smith, you can develop leadership skills that are not only effective but also deeply resonant on a personal level. Remember, the journey to leadership excellence is both personal and collective, requiring ongoing reflection, adaptation, and genuine connection with those you lead.

Hump Day Hoedown

Advice for others

Seek a deeper understanding of the human condition earlier on. With each passing year, we gain wisdom that enriches our choices and perspectives.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I should build an even more rest.

Best Leadership Advice

Take your vacations.

Secret to Success / Tools

I wake up every day with a centering question, which is, what is the one thing that I can do today that will make tomorrow even easier in terms of my business, my relationships, and my life.

Recommended Reading

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

Embracing the Creative Leader’s Mindset

In this episode, we delved into the transformative power of creativity, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking in leadership, as discussed by Dina Denham Smith. From understanding the brain’s dynamics to embracing diversity and fostering resilience, each insight underscores the multifaceted nature of effective leadership. By embracing these principles, leaders can navigate complexity, inspire teams, and drive meaningful change.

Episode Links and Resources

Dina’s website:

Dina’s LinkedIn:

Fast Leader Show on YouTube: 

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Fast Leader Show on LinkedIn:  

More episodes related to change:

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