Why creative people can lose out on leadership positions
26 FEBRUARY 2011 – Leader.co.za
A bias against creativity is good – and more critical than ever in business. So why do so many once-creative companies get bogged down over time, with continuous innovation the exception and not the norm? Wharton management professor Jennifer Mueller and colleagues from Cornell University and the Indian School of Business have gained critical insight into why.
In a paper titled, “Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?” to be published in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Mueller and co-authors Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell and Dishan Kamdar of ISB undertook three studies to examine how creative people were viewed by colleagues. The troubling finding: Those individuals who expressed more creative ideas were viewed as having less, not more, leadership potential. The exception, they found, was when people were specifically told to focus on charismatic leaders. In that case, creative types fared better. But the bottom line is that, in most cases, being creative seems to put people at a disadvantage for climbing the corporate ladder. “It is not easy to select creative leaders,” says Mueller. “It takes more time and effort to recognise a creative leader than we might have previously thought.”
That reality should be of concern to those who sit in corporate boardrooms around the globe. In a recent survey of 1,500 CEOs by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, creativity was named the single most important attribute for success in leading a large corporation in the future. That finding is hardly surprising to Mueller. “There is research that shows that those who have their own creative ideas are better leaders,” she notes. “Those individuals know how to recognise good ideas, are open to them and know how to get creative ideas through [the organisation]. Selecting creative leaders is the critical challenge organisations face.”
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- Why creative people can lose out on leadership positions
- Recognizing creative leadership: Can creative idea expression negatively relate to perceptions of leadership potential? (studiet – .pdf)