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Creativity vs. Innovation

Creativity vs. Innovation

In our culture we see people with "Creativity" as a mixed blessing, and supporters of the "Status Quo" as more effective leaders.

A recent s+b article (click here) shared insightful research and concluded that supporters of the status quo, not the creative types, are seen as more effective leaders. Mention creative types, and our mind wanders to people maybe brilliant or arrogant and often not quite predictable. Mention leaders, and a very different image appears: pictures of square jawed demigods and business visionaries come to mind. The s+b article concludes that "because of conflicting stereotypes about creativity and leadership, stakeholders prefer the prototype of a leader they see as fostering a stable and secure environment. However, creative people who are also charismatic stand a better chance of advancing." I smiled at the last sentence... suggesting as it did that creative types can redeem themselves through charisma...

... or success, I say. Boy, catch one of those creative types with a million dollar idea, or a billion dollar company, and miraculously they're no longer called creative types. Now they're innovators. In fairness, the upgrade to innovator usually requires both creative talent and operational discipline, the ability to build an engine for profitable growth and fuel a passion for success (and compensate for potential weakness in one or the other)... but certainly creative types need more than charisma to become effective leaders. 

So largely the difference between a creative type and innovator, and ultimately an effective leader, is economic success. I wonder how many creative types we discourage with our cultural (okay, human) bias towards the status quo and against change and innovation.  

Steve Jobs was a creative type techie in the 1970's. He persevered to reinvent entire industries with his creative, innovative genius and ability to get thousands of employees and millions of customers to follow him, and now we call him an innovator. 

By nurturing creative types and developing their leadership toolbox, could we foster innovation and profitable sales growth in our businesses and the economy as a whole? 

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