I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that they’re not creative. Unfortunately, until a few years ago, that included me!
My belief was set in stone for me when I joined a management consultancy (as one of my first full time jobs, many years ago). The directors wanted me to come up with new products and services to sell to their clients, even though I had no relevant work experience to use as a base. However, I was able to come up with innovative ways to put their ideas for new products and services into practice, in ways that they hadn’t thought of. Is that not creative?
As with all our beliefs – we look for evidence that supports our thinking, whether that’s positive or negative. If we believe that we are not, or our team are not, creative, then we could well be underselling ourselves or making a rod for our own back.
When I’ve challenged those people who don’t think they’re capable of being creative, they have then been able to demonstrate a great many ways to contradict themselves. They, like me, have had a definition in their mind and compared themselves to that definition only.
Innovation, for instance, isn’t always about invention. It can be about looking at different ways something can be fixed, altered, tweaked. It can be about recognising where you may have done something similar before and transferring the learning to your current situation. It’s about understanding how you can lead the generation of new and unusual solutions for problems, by moving away from the known and recognised, and encouraging flexibility and novelty of ideas.
Knowing how to set the environment that encourages creativity is key for leaders. And dispelling any beliefs that you and the team aren’t or can’t be creative should be one of those at the top of that list.
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