Executives experience an emotional mixed bag where innovation and creativity are concerned. For the most part, it is an unhelpful negative mindset harming an employee’s contributions. 

What do I mean? 

When I’m confidentially speaking with executives, many uncomfortably and honestly share…  

I’m not creative. When innovation is the focus of a meeting, I try to sink into the background, hoping others will engage. This response doesn’t serve my career.  

As with my clients, Adobe research found that less than half of our population considers themselves creative. 

So, there’s a lot of unhelpful emotional energy surrounding creativity from the employee’s perception. 

And then there’s the other point of view. 

A Gallup study reveals another layer of this concern, disclosing that 75 percent of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.  

And then, there is the corporate expectation, as disclosed in an IBM study showing that 60 percent of CEOs now see creativity as the most meaningful leadership quality for success in their business.  

What a gap! No question, executives today need to reframe their internal-emotional dialogue to meet the needs of today’s marketplace. 

Let’s clear up a few misperceptions.  

FIRST: Okay, you may not be able to paint a masterpiece that one day hangs at the Louvre, but that isn’t even close to what business leaders are asking for when they say they need innovative employees. 

What are companies looking for in their executives? They want independent thinkers who bring an “out-of-the-box” mindset to problem-solving that opens the doors for solutions everywhere they touch, whether marketing, strategy planning, or process improvement, which may be overlooked by the more single-focused “expert technical thinker.” 

SECOND: The “Grand Aha” is a myth if you’re defining the “eureka moment” as something that pops into your head wholly formed in a nanosecond. 

Yes. You may recognize the pathway to solution in a moment, but before the manifestation, which includes intense study, exploration, and research. The equally important aspect is incubation and mental seasoning, where the creation is processed in the background, almost mystically putting disparate pieces together.  

You must give yourself space to breathe into the “big idea!” 

THIRD: You may believe only a blessed few are creative, but that is patently untrue. You absolutely can learn, hone, and master it. 

How? Encourage curiosity. Instead of being satisfied with one solution, begin the practice of saying…. When you have a solution idea, say after that thought, “And, and, and?” Or ask yourself for 100 answers to your problem. Or launch a lightning rod round where you have each executive offer up their smallest ideas. These approaches signal to your brain that you’re not looking for one perfect solution. Rather, you desire ideas and more ideas.  

It is rarely one concept alone that leads to breakthroughs—more often, a melding and gelling of all of them combine into innovation emerging from many. 

FOURTH: Many believe that they don’t need to be creative. They’ve secured themselves behind a past business model: It’s never been my responsibility. Or I don’t handle the innovative aspects. I’m answerable for the technical side of business. Or My role depends on my expertise in accounting or other specialized niches–not my creativity. This falsehood couldn’t be further from today’s reality. Today, everyone’s job requires creativity! Even you!  

More than your technical expertise is needed to keep your career thriving. The Future of Jobs World Economic Forum found that analytical and creative thinking remain the most important skills for workers in 2023.  

This same report stated that Employers estimate that 44 percent of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. 

If you squirm in the face of evolving your skills, knock yourself on the side of the head and inject transformation and creativity into your role definition. Now, more than ever, an urgent, fundamental shift is demanded of you to achieve a sustainable, flourishing career.

Please keep in mind that innovation and creativity determine the profitable future of companies, so it will always be a constant, open-ended activity. That means an executive with big dreams and career aspirations adapts, evolves, and solves. 

Your job, should you accept the assignment, is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in the space of innovation and creativity. 

What myth do you intend to kill off? Wait a minute. What about knocking down all of them, as they are barriers to your creative flow?