In 2016, the World Economic Forum published a future of jobs report listing creativity as one of the top three most-needed workplace skills for 2020 and beyond. Interestingly, creativity was No. 10 on the list just five years before. Why the change?
The real question, given the extent to which technology is changing and transforming virtually every aspect of the modern world, is why not?
There is no better example of digital disruption, innovation, failure and success in the business world than the rise of Netflix and the demise of Blockbuster. Companies that evolve and innovate outpace their counterparts and often render them irrelevant. At the same time, companies can only innovate if their leaders are creative, so the bigger question becomes, how can organizations foster creativity among their leaders?
A good place to start is with research suggesting that without self-awareness, people are incapable of creative accomplishments. Other research indicates that people who self-monitor more frequently are significantly more innovative than people who self-monitor less frequently. These studies suggest that self-awareness is a legitimate way to access creativity.
Here are three reasons self-awareness training enhances creativity.
1. Self-awareness Training Empowers People to Assume an Optimistic View
Research tells us that creativity is directly linked to optimism. When we feel good, we’re more solutions-oriented, but when we don’t, we can easily fall victim to the lure of pessimistic tunnel vision.
Self-awareness broadens people’s view and provides them with an opportunity to identify and adjust their perspective to see things more optimistically. This viewpoint, in turn, enhances their ability to unlock and unleash their creativity.
2. Self-awareness Training Helps People to Think and Work Independently
According to research summarized in the Harvard Business Review, there are two types of self-awareness: how we view ourselves and how we believe others view us. People who are self-aware in both areas have a sense of balance and independence. Their independence allows them to develop and share new ideas without fear of rejection.
On the other hand, people who derive their sense of self mostly from the opinions of others fear rejection, and people who are incapable of seeing themselves or the world outside of the opinions of others tend to be more submissive and agreeable. Both types of people generally do not develop or share new ideas. Self-awareness training can help them balance both aspects of self-awareness so that they are more open to creating and expressing new ideas.
3. Self-awareness Training Helps People Recognize and Capitalize on Their Strengths
It’s far too common to find brilliant people in roles that do not complement their strengths. To illustrate this idea, imagine Albert Einstein as a basketball player or Michael Jordan as a physicist; obviously, these roles would not complement their innate brilliance or creative genius. Self-awareness training empowers people to identify what they are good at and intentionally seek environments, opportunities and roles that encourage their unique strengths and creative abilities to find expression and flourish.
It is clear that the success of leaders and organizations today is dependent on their ability to innovate and create. With access to almost unlimited resources, modern consumers are more empowered than ever, and their needs and expectations are becoming increasingly more grandiose as technology continues to advance.
In order to be competitive in this kind of environment, organizations need to know what consumers want even before they do, which is not possible without creativity and innovation. Training leaders to be more self-aware and creative is a great strategy to prepare for what’s to come in this “survival of the fittest” digital escapade.