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Posted: December 20, 2013

The super-elusive leadership quality

Jump off the hamster wheel and find it

Derek Murphy

A recent IBM survey asked global CEOs to name the most important leadership quality they needed, but are hard-pressed to find.

According to the survey of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, chief executives believe creativity is the most vital leadership competency.

Yes, you read it correctly. More than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision-creativity is the key to successfully navigating an increasingly complex world.

Surprised? Well, think about it. We are coming out of the economic downturn and are now faced with a new "normal". Industry transformation creates uncertainty, and leaders must use creative thinking to discover innovative ways of managing an organization's structure, people, and strategy.

However, most leaders are already so consumed with their current responsibilities that they can't slow down. In other words, they are running on a hamster wheel day after day.

This endless loop causes many leaders to stay stuck in traditional thinking and not focused on new ideas and issues that will move the organization forward.

If you want your company to foster creativity and innovation, you need to break the pattern and step off the wheel. The good news is, creativity is the ability to generate fresh ideas, and fortunately, that is a skill that can be learned.

Here are some tips to follow:

• Make sure you understand your industry, your organization, and its products and services thoroughly. As you review your knowledge, focus on gaps in services or products that you notice, and allow yourself to visualize how to fill in the void.

• Keep current on industry trends by reading at least two articles from a business journal each week.

• Identify people who are known to have good ideas. Listen to them and pay attention to how they form ideas. Read biographies about people who have made a difference.

• Look at your organization's environment. Are imagination and creativity encouraged? To foster an environment of creativity, offer a platform where ideas can be shared and cultivated - especially differing ideas. Passionate discussions and reasonable conflict may ensue, but that's part of the creative process.

• Identify visionaries (sometimes considered eccentrics). Listen to what they have to say with an open mind.

We all know how easy it is to get so caught up working in the business that we're not effectively working on the business. Gaining some creative perspective may be just the trick to stop you from chasing your tail (so to speak).

Derek Murphy is CEO of TBC, a global assessment company with over 4 decades of experience, specializing in 360s and survey customization. Our hosting platform, TruScore®, allows you to manage all of your talent management assessments in one central location. Request a demo to discover why some of the most recognized brands in the Fortune 1000 chose TBC.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Derek, Thanks for highlighting the value of creativity among leaders. I appreciated your tips on how to foster creativity and would like to add a related insight. Creativity often involves the intersection of perspectives between different fields of knowledge or practice. One way that leaders can tap this rich vein is to collaborate. Developing a project with people whose viewpoints are different from your own is a surefire way to nurture creativity. Looking forward to your next article! By Susan Berry on 2011 04 21
Derek, fascinating article. I'll mark it down as one of my two articles from a business journal this week. Your different perspective, backed by data, is greatly appreciated. By TC North on 2011 04 21
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