You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
During a recent corporate event, several executives shared their concerns about dwindling creativity. In this company’s case, creativity is paramount to survival and continued success in order to produce new product for their customer base. Their level of anxiety seemed so elevated that the LEADon® team decided to investigate the topic further. Could there be a significant, post-pandemic deficiency in imagination and innovation? And, if so, what actions should leaders in today’s Corporate Family® settings take to resolve such a dilemma?
As it turned out, we didn’t have to look far to discover professional discussions on the topic of creativity—or the lack thereof—and its impact on communities, culture, and corporate life. In fact, in a December 2021 article, Vivienne Ming expressed her belief that leaders should not only understand the current deficit but also realize how creativity impacts their future: “we will need more creatives rich in meta-learning skills, like resilience, perspective taking, analogical reasoning, and uncertainty tolerance.” Dr. Ming also shared how a decreased capability to think imaginatively, act innovatively, and “learn how to learn” (meta-learning) will hit many organizations hard since “(in) our next generation of creatives, there will be too few of them. The war for talent will become a brutal conflict as we compete for the same tiny cohort” (find Ming’s post at https://www.dukece.com/insights/the-creativity-deficit/).
What can be done to combat such a shortage of both talent and creative capabilities? Some experts suggest the answer may already be at our fingertips: leaders need to foster a growth mindset. What does growth mindset actually entail? According to Kristian Livolsi, it’s “the belief that an individual’s most basic abilities and skills can be developed through dedication and hard work.” In essence, leaders who continue to learn and grow will be more productive, and they’ll also encourage the innovativeness of others in their spheres of influence (for more of Livolsi’s 2020 Entrepreneur article “10 Steps to Achieve Growth Mindset in Business,” go to https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/353483).
In addition to honing a growth mindset, there are other steps you can take to foster an innovative, outside-the-box, continuous-learning way of thinking. In our online leadership course, LEADing with Creativity in Your Corporate Family®, the LEADon team shares that one of the first ways to become more creative is to get comfortable with “messy.” In other words, the creative process will never be static or status quo. You’ve got to be willing to break free from unproductive habits, actively implement new ones, and be okay with the struggle involved in this kind of creative development. You also need to allow others on your team to forge these new, untested pathways too.
Interestingly, the creative process often involves failure, which can produce tremendous anxiety for many leaders. Yet embracing this seemingly counterintuitive method of thinking and problem solving is an additional step toward fostering creativity. According to a 2021 post by Forbes Councils Member Andrew Constable, learning from failure and overcoming adversity tend to develop resiliency. Not only is this attribute found in Ming’s list of priorities for current and future Corporate Family members, but it’s also a critical skill for leaders hoping to thrive in a constantly evolving, global marketplace (for Constable’s post, “Why Entrepreneurs Must Develop a Growth Mindset for Their Businesses,” go to www.forbes.com).
Fostering creativity, whether personally or professionally, should be a priority for all leaders. This process can powerfully impact current success, and it will also enhance future endeavors. Plus, as Maya Angelou shared in the quote above, leaders who intentionally develop this skill should never have to worry about a creative deficit again. Consider how you can increase the creative efforts of your entire Corporate Family in the days ahead, and if the team at LEADon can assist you further, please connect with us at 858.592.0700 or www.LEADonUniversity.com.