In 2010, IBM conducted an international poll of more than 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders about their leadership qualities. About 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality. Surprisingly, this outweighed leadership qualities that you would think are the most important ones to have — like integrity, global outlook, and influence.
Creativity is an important driving force in the business world. Every year, Fast Company releases a list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business to honor individuals who are shaping the future of business in creative ways.
Take Divya Nag, who’s honored as #2 on 2016’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. As part of Special Projects, Divya leads the team at Apple that created ResearchKit, a data-sharing tool that makes it easier for doctors and researchers to collaborate on medical research. By storing and sharing health data, researchers can study various health issues by collecting data from thousands of patients via mobile technology, rather than collecting data the traditional way from people who travel to research facilities.
As a dreamer, do-er, and darer, Divya set out to solve a problem that often plagues the world of medical research — finding participant data for studies. Her outside-the-box thinking by melding medicine, technology, and crowdsourcing led to a new tool in the health arena.
Are you looking to find the next breakthrough creative solution for your business like Divya? Here are a few ways business leaders can encourage creativity.
Change is Good
Change is constant and disruptive — that’s a good thing. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs were constantly imagining new possibilities. They instigated change when others were weary, and encouraged others around them to think in the same vein. Even Divya Nag instigated change with her creative solution for medical research. Change and creativity go hand in hand, and to rise to your true leadership potential, it’s helpful to break away from the familiar and routine.
Get Familiar with the Unfamiliar
Research shows that being in an unfamiliar environment spurs creativity. And according to Adam Galinsky, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, stepping outside your familiar environment can help you gain new perspectives on everyday life. Something adventurous such as traveling abroad can encourage creativity. Something simple, such as spending time outside in nature, can lead to an increase in creativity as well.
Disconnect from the Web
As a business executive, you may be prone to be connected to your devices all the time. But did you know that being constantly connected can actually hinder creativity? Instead of spending time thinking about a creative move for your business, you’re replying to dozens of emails. This can actually slow down your business’ progress! If you disconnect from time to time, you will become more productive by allowing new ideas to flourish and likely improving your work-life balance at the same time. Try blocking a few hours of time each week for expansive thinking without technology.