Behavioral Scale Deep Dive: High Creativity

Creativity: The ability to act and think creatively.

Highly Creative people see the world through a unique lens, and are responsible for the world’s many innovations. They think outside of the box and find answers to questions that seem unanswerable out of thin air.  They seek innovation. They like pushing boundaries, physical and emotional, and embrace an adventurous nature. They are original thinkers and tend to be bright and very “quick on their feet.”However, along with all of these wonderful things, high scorers in creativity don’t always like to follow the rules, and can be inconsistent and undependable at times — which can result in many managers feeling frustrated. Allowing the creative juices to flow within guidelines, deadlines and the demands of modern business is often a constant test for the skilled manager when dealing with employees that score high in creativity. However, if you become aware of their behavioral attributes and know how to nurture their creative process , your company will reap many benefits. Here are a few behavioral attributes of someone with a high score in creativity and tips to better manage the creatives within your workplace. 

High Creativity

Often, when people think of highly creative people, they think of the people doing the hands-on artwork or performances: the artists, musicians, designers, writers, dancers, etc. Although prominent historical figures like Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, Bach, and The Beatles are all examples of highly creative people, you don’t have to be a skilled painter or musician to score high in creativity. Looking to the business world for our inspiration, Steve Jobs was arguably one of the most creative entrepreneurs of the modern era, revolutionizing the way that people use and interact with technology. 

Meet Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was a true technology pioneer and entrepreneur whose creative impact is felt in almost every aspect of modern business, communication, and design. Jobs was obsessed with aesthetic details which can be seen in the sleek, modern design of of every Apple product. He had a wide range of interests that inspired many aspects of Apple’s design and his philosophy toward leadership and business. For example, after dropping out of college, Jobs decided to pursue classes that interested him, such as calligraphy, which he shared was the inspiration for Apple’s beautiful typography. He also spent a few months in India during this period in his life where he delved deeply into Zen Buddhist Mediation Practices. Drawing from these diverse experiences and openness to newness, Jobs was always thinking out of the box and “drawing from other boxes,” and as a result, revolutionized personal computing. 

Steve Jobs is a good example of someone with a high score in Creativity. He: 

  • Is an original thinker.
  • Tends to be adventurous, bright and very “quick on his feet.”
  • Has an appreciation for beauty
  • Is an “idea person” who thinks out of the box
  • Is capable of producing solutions out of “thin air.” 
  • Seeks out interesting and out of the ordinary experiences.
  • Enjoys fast paced, constantly changing environments.
  • Loves variety, originality and individual effort. 
  • Is attracted to aesthetics.
  • Has a wide range of interests, is clever, and quick to respond.
  • Tends to be more abstract and complicated.
  • Is motivated by strategizing, dreaming, action, fast pace, risk and innovation 

Tips for Managing High Scorers:

Although Steve Jobs’ high creativity led to numerous innovations, he was also notorious for his difficult work style. It’s hard to imagine managing someone like Steve Jobs, who is fiercely independent, always pushing the boundaries, and taking risks. Also, although Jobs was an example of a more focused, highly creative person due to his discipline of meditation, research supports the common stereotype of many creatives as spontaneous, passionate, and unpredictable, which can also make them hard to manage. Here are some tips for managing someone with a high creativity score: 

Give Just Enough Structure

Finding the perfect balance of structure is key to encouraging productivity when working with highly creative people. Too much structure and minutia and you destroy their contribution; Give too little structure, and nothing gets done. Creatives often do their best work when they have some confines because they can use the boundaries to help drive creativity and inspiration in a specific direction. Sometimes too much freedom can send creatives in a million different directions and they’ll eventually end up in a whole different world.

Establish a Consistent Communication Schedule

Establishing a consistent, but not overbearing, communication process is key. This may mean hosting monthly or weekly team meetings that keep them excited about the project, or working with them to set up individual meetings to show your interest in their ideas and process.  This can help them stay accountable and on the same path. 

Pair Highly Creative Employees with High Scorers in Endurance & Order

For many highly creative people, order and structure are likely not their strongest suits, or they have a unique way of organizing their thoughts that may not be easily translatable.  If you partner them with people who are good at finishing things (i.e.-High scorers in Endurance) and who have the ability to order and clarify ideas (i.e.-High scorers in Order), collaboration will flow and grow. 

Be Flexible

When you’re managing a group of creative professionals, celebrate their eccentricities and let them do their thing.  Trust in their ability and avoid the temptation to micro-manage their every move. 

Be Mindful of Monotony

A quick way to kill a creative person’s productivity is to assign them many monotonous tasks. High scorers in creativity enjoy fast paced, constantly changing environments. They love variety, originality and individual effort, which is in direct opposition to having to fill out a lot of tedious paperwork. 

Don’t be afraid of failure

Part of doing creative work is taking risks, and many creative people thrive off of taking risks. Although many of these risks can lead to epic failures, many creative people have cultivated a unique resilience that we have found to be one of the biggest predictors of success. 

Let them create their space

Creating the right environment and aesthetic is very important to highly creative people. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries (within reason of course.)

Encourage them to slow down and turn off

Highly creative people have a deep need to renew their inspiration and imagination, and often require periods of solitude to perform their best. Encourage this and you’ll get results. 

Managing highly creative people can sometimes be a challenging task. However, if you are aware of the behavioral attributes of someone with a High Creativity score, you can learn how to create an environment that fosters out-of-the-box thinking and encourages their growth. You might have to get out of your comfort zone a little to do it, but the benefits of fresh, innovative thinking to your company will be well worth it. 

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