Creativity and confidence: a love story

Creativity’s useless

We know – provocative. We don’t really believe this, of course. But all the talk of creativity as a prerequisite soft skill has got us thinking: are there any scenarios where this bizarre statement might ring true?

From the collective wisdom at Arctic Shores came only one instance: when creative minds lack confidence.

You can make creativity the must-have soft skill of the season. But you’ll only reap the benefits of a creative workforce if your people feel free to voice their ideas – whether they’re offering eureka moments, or complete duds (we’ve all been there).

Suppressed innovation

Every manager would like to believe that their charges feel comfortable voicing their brightest ideas.

For many, though, that’s simply not the case. Cross-industry research shows that 85% of people will sit on what they see as their best or most important workplace suggestions, rather than voicing them proudly. Potential causes here include:

  • Lack of managerial support
  • Peer pressure
  • Fears of retaliation
  • A belief that nothing will change

Let’s crunch some numbers. We humans are estimated to have between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. Let’s just say (tentatively) that a fraction are work related – maybe 10%. Of this 10%, we’ll assume that just a further tenth are the cream of the crop.

This means that a 100-person company could lose out on 42,500 valuable, work-related ideas every day. And that’s using conservative estimates. In an increasingly data-oriented world, this is really a waste – maybe it’s time for a suggestion box?

Bottling inspiration

Creativity clearly demands the oxygen of confidence. So it’s important that businesses recognise their role in fostering the latter! But how can you go about achieving this?

Open-mindedness

Creativity doesn’t just reside in your ‘creative’ teams. It can be found across your organisation, from finance to IT to HR… if you’re willing to look!

So, don’t write off feedback from these corners – cherish it. Your accountant’s emails might not read like prized poetry, but they’ll probably contain some solutions if you’re prepared to engage with non-traditional sources of inspiration.

Diversity & Inclusion

An inherently inclusive company, valuing the input of minority groups, will have a greater chance of instilling all employees with the confidence to share their voice.

Strong cultural diversity has also been correlated to increases in cognitive diversity. Think of the latter as a toolbox of ideas and processes designed to overcome challenges – the bigger, the better. Establishing new approaches to problems, as it happens, is in fact also a core definition of creativity!

Flexibility

Employees will stick their neck out if they feel trusted and free to fail. There are few better ways to show trust than allowing greater flexibility in their day to day working lives.

Whether it’s working remotely a few days a week, or flexible hours to accommodate the school run, small adjustments can have big impacts. Happy, trusted employees will be more confident and creative.

Exit the vacuum

Creativity is a soft skill in the highest demand. But we hope that this post has shown that it shouldn’t be seen in a vacuum.

Instead, it relies on other qualities that are directly impacted by how employees feel in the workplace – something deeply linked to your culture and policies.

So, rather than just examining candidates’ creative potential, look at it as a two-way street. They might have the right creative juices, but whether these flow or remain untapped will rely on the confidence you are able to instil.

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