Unless you’re a creative genius, business ideas are generally nurtured and harvested by a team operating within a supportive and professional space. Whether that space is an office, a workshop or a paddock, the more creative, in synch and supportive the team and environment, the better the product development.
Executed deftly, creativity coupled with implementation leads to innovation and the introduction to the world of a new technology or idea.
Identifying how best to inspire, recognise and nurture creativity within a team is one of the fundamental constituents of success in business.
Inherent in the creative process is risk. A sense of vulnerability often accompanies the excitement of presenting a new idea. Even the most confident among us are susceptible to nervousness. Will the idea be received as brilliant or embarrassing?
An effective team will not dismiss an idea prematurely. Instead, they will work through it systematically, all the while adhering to the following traits and practices:
- sincere listening
- inquisitive questioning
- a balance between assertiveness and support
- problem solving
- positive body language, and
- well-developed emotional intelligence.
Here are some points to focus on to ensure you inspire and support creativity:
- Sincere listening: Take the time to listen to your colleagues with genuine sincerity – they’ll respect you for it. If they have agonised over the creative process, the least you can do is provide a receptive ear. In doing so, you are promoting the sense of trust and support needed in any team setting, especially one reliant on creativity.
Presenting an idea to an unresponsive or inattentive audience is demoralising. Good listeners refrain from interjecting or using the occasion to reiterate their own ideas.
Sincerity and inquisitiveness on the part of the listener will benefit everyone involved in the creative process, regardless of who is presenting the initial idea.
As witnessed in the most recent US presidential candidate debates, the friction between people lacking the ability or intent to listen sincerely can be strangely compelling – especially for the opposition! Talking over each other, refusing to compromise and focusing on kudos are sure signs the creative process is faltering.
- Body language: At some point you’ll need to convey that brilliant idea to colleagues, clients or customers.
Allan Pease, Honorary Professor of Psychology at ULIM International University and renowned body language expert, explains that engaging an audience and soliciting a desired response is all in your hands.
Presenting an idea with your palms facing upwards creates a sense of inclusiveness, openness and fun. On the flip-side, the downward palm comes across as an order or directive, and finger pointing is just plain threatening. Under threat, real or perceived, a person’s reaction is to release adrenalin, spurring into action the ‘fight or flight’ response. Needless to say, the creative process will be rapidly dismantled.
Remember, body language is the silent gateway to the sub-conscious so employ it wisely.
- Assertiveness: Put simply, this amounts to displaying confidence without aggression or arrogance. It is a crucial component to fostering creativity. Confidence ensures ideas are expressed without reservation and dissected intelligently and fairly.
Assertiveness applied astutely ensures your audience knows where they stand with you. When combined with openness, honesty and mutual respect, nascent ideas become things of greatness.
- Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. When you can regulate your own emotions and positively influence those around you, you are best placed to apply them to problem solving tasks.
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s research into behavioural economics essentially outlined the two thinking systems that control our behavior.
The first is a kind of auto-pilot system that that corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. On the positive side, this system ensures our safety by reacting instinctively to perilous situations and guiding us through our daily habits. The key to harnessing this system, is to manage the incessant minor stresses of modern life without overreacting and to avoid making snap decisions.
The second is the intentional system, which reflects our rational thinking. Although it requires tiring mental effort to apply, the intentional system can prevent our emotions from overwhelming our rational side and undermining creativity.
Studies have shown* that emotionally intelligent employees display a high level of generosity; these acts of generosity nurture a sense of vigor, which in turn fosters creative behaviours.
From the team at Jump Resumes, all the best in pursuing and nurturing creativity in your life and workplace.
(Co-written with the Managing Editor of Jump Resumes, Craig Francis. Craig has an impressive background in international media and journalism having worked for CNN.com and major daily newspapers across numerous continents. Craig has also written feature material and special reports on major international issues and events, as well as conducting interviews with significant international figures, including European heads of state, multinational business leaders and international celebrities.)
*The Journal of Creative Behaviour; Volume 48, Issue 4, pages 290–309, December 2014