Creative thinkers are invaluable to the business. They are often the champions of innovation, and innovation is almost always the component that allows a company to leave the competition far behind.
As Theodore Henderson wrote for Forbes, “Innovation is vital in the workplace because it gives companies an edge in penetrating markets faster and provides a better connection to developing markets, which can lead to more significant opportunities, especially in rich countries. Innovation can also help develop original concepts while giving the innovator a proactive, confident attitude to take risks and get things done.”
Despite that, though, it is always safer to fall back on methods that have stood the test of time. For that reason, individuals who are more prone to pursue creative processes sometimes struggle to mesh well with others.
But if you’re an innovator, you don’t have to accept a professional atmosphere wherein you’re butting heads with coworkers. You should do everything you can to prevent that from happening.
Why Does It Matter?
This question is especially relevant for those who have had the pleasure of being able to lead point on novel products and services for their organization that effectively changed their organization’s standing in the industry.
However, long-term success virtually never comes to the one-person show.
People are a constant and essential part of the professional world. Thus, there’s value for creatives in ensuring you’re prepared to tackle the personal level of your professional life in such a way that your creativity has the space it needs to thrive, without ruining your professional relationships. Or your chances at leadership.
Part of the challenge is undoubtedly that intrinsic risk factor that can make others uncomfortable. But, a large part of it is also that creative thinkers often work differently, in general. So, while thinking in an out-of-the-box manner is likely a large part of why you’re where you are and how you’ll get where you want to be, it can make it challenging to thrive in some settings.
But, if every work environment includes burning bridges because you’re unable to function in a group atmosphere, even if your ideas are valued, you will never be able to thrive. Plus, you’ll hinder others from being able to succeed, as well, if there’s preventable conflict.
1) Recognize the Value of Being a Team Player
For the vast majority of people, group work can present challenges; even the most similar among us are not the same and will inevitably disagree at some point. But no matter who you are, the foundational piece of working well within a group is going to be understanding just how valuable they are.
This means recognizing the reality that almost everything we do in a professional setting is only ever accomplished via the effort of more than just ourselves. Additionally, beyond the fact that successful teamwork demonstrates a host of soft skills, studies have shown that those who do best at team efforts are also often most successful at individual efforts.
Thus, there is an argument for the fact that the requirements of doing good work within a team dynamic are also needed to do a solid job on your own. One of the primary factors that lead to successful projects is smart people who are committed to the same vision and goals.
Being able to function well within a team is a skill, and as with other skills, the practice might not make perfect, but it will get better. Additionally, it’s worth it. Even if it’s challenging and seemingly unproductive, the reality is it’s good for business, and it’s good for you as an individual, too.
2) Create the Space for Creative Play at Work
The key to not allowing your creativity to become squelched is to carve out appropriate outlets for the unique ways you work. It’s vital that you’re able to do what you need to do to think and work innovatively — it’s just a matter of making sure it happens in the right context.
In a recent interview, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman — who has studied highly creative people — pointed out that play is an essential part of creativity, and that for that reason creatives are very intentional about it. He noted, “As adults, cultivating a childlike sense of play can revolutionize the way we work.”
If your workflow or your work process is significantly different than that of those around you, do the work in a physical space that ensures they feel respected. It’s likely that if you’re distracting them, they’re distracting you.
This is not a call to separate yourself entirely, but rather a way to give yourself the ability to work in a manner that will best allow you to be the innovator you are. Consider a set amount of time each workweek within which you can think and create and play to your heart’s desire.
3) Present Creative Solutions in Organized Ways
For others, working with creatives often means dealing with unpredictable behavior and unconventional ideas, and that can be genuinely challenging. So the balance you must strike is contributing fully while also doing so in a way that ensures your ideas translate well.
Again, creative people are uniquely positioned to be assets within the organizations they work for because they are more likely to champion innovation; the cash flow that fuels business growth will never be consistent without it.
There are many areas where industries across the board are clearly in need of a fresh strategy.
- One report by Econsultancy looked at how organizations apply data to bolster their business and found that a whopping 62 percent do not have any formally documented data analysis strategy.
- The cybersecurity department of DeVry University reports 44 percent of leadership in companies don’t believe their workforce has a skillset that consistently adapts to modern technology.
- A survey found that over half of companies struggle to coordinate innovation and their business strategy, which essentially means that they have no game plan.
Creatives are distinctly positioned to solve those problems. Given that fact, it isn’t just recommended; it is imperative that companies utilize the employees they have who are intimately predisposed to tackle old issues in new ways.
As a creative, you can make that happen seamlessly. It’s just a matter of solving problems and working on projects with ingenuity, and then taking the steps necessary to package your work in an accessible manner for peers and leadership alike.
The line, “Write drunk, edit sober,” is usually attributed to Ernest Hemingway, and in the sentiment there lies a truth that is also applicable to highly creative people who are eager to mesh well with others in their field.
This is namely that the key to doing it well is to maintain the ideas and methods that allow you to operate on a unique level, and then take the time and effort needed to ensure your result is something that is helpful and usable, and ultimately good for your whole company.