Are creative people less likely to become leaders?

Excerpt from the recent article “A Bias against ‘Quirky’? Why Creative People Can Lose Out on Leadership Positions” in Knowldge@Wharton.

“Creativity is good — and more critical than ever in business. So why do so many once-creative companies get bogged down over time, with continuous innovation the exception and not the norm? Wharton management professor Jennifer Mueller and colleagues from Cornell University and the Indian School of Business have gained critical insight into why.

In a paper titled, “Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?” to be published in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Mueller and co-authors Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell and Dishan Kamdar of ISB undertook three studies to examine how creative people were viewed by colleagues. The troubling finding: Those individuals who expressed more creative ideas were viewed as having less, not more, leadership potential. The exception, they found, was when people were specifically told to focus on charismatic leaders. In that case, creative types fared better. But the bottom line is that, in most cases, being creative seems to put people at a disadvantage for climbing the corporate ladder. “It is not easy to select creative leaders,” says Mueller. ‘It takes more time and effort to recognize a creative leader than we might have previously thought.'”

If this study is correct, could this be the reason why innovation in many companies has yet to reach to secior executive levels. Or has the study missed important points. What is your opinion and have you ever met a truly creative senior executive? Would Apple’s Steve Jobs from the viewpoint of the studybe the exception rather than the norm?

Have your say here?



Reclaiming the Co-creation Process from the Public Sector by Frode Lundsten

Reclaiming the Co-creation Process from the Public Sector

Public sector innovation is a necessity, if we are to reduce public spending and address changing demographics. The public sector is lagging behind the private sector in transforming ideas into innovation, which made me question whether we are pursuing the wrong approach. This is not to say that I am questioning the abilities of people working in the public sector, but merely provoking a dialogue with the reader. You are all invited to join in!

News headlines are often based on statements made by politicians about the need for public sector innovation if we are to reduce public spending, improve public services and/or transform our welfare societies to address changing demographics. The same media also publish articles and reports highlighting that the public sector is lagging behind the private sector in terms of transforming ideas into innovations. This apparent divide in the mindset towards innovation between the public and the private sectors raises the question of whether we are pursuing the wrong path. Are we right to assume that a sector subject to the influence of politicians and thus popular opinion, can foster a culture that is truly innovative?

I do not question the abilities of the people working in the public sector; I want only to spark debate among the readers of InnovationManagement about what we might expect if the current innovation context remains unchanged, or what could or should be expected were the innovation context to change.

Innovation leadership lacks vision and clear objectives

I attended a recent conference on user-driven innovation in the public sector; a cross-border initiative of the Nordic countries. The conference agenda revolved around showcasing of success stories from Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

One takeaway from the conference was that in spite of presenting a success story, the innovation objective of the project was still unclear based on the presentations formulated to meet some political objective. How can creative, enthusiastic people – read public sector employees – sustain their enthusiasm and creativity levels if the innovation objective is primarily serving a political aim? Let me be more specific.

During the current financial crisis many countries experienced massive layoffs and spiralling unemployment rates. This made it political suicide publicly to pursue, sponsor and implement innovations (e.g. new processes) aimed at reducing public sector employment. Contrast this with the fact that the same countries are experiencing dramatic shifts in their demographics, and within the next decade at most, this will radically reduce the size of the total workforce threatening the public fiscal budget and tax revenues. This gloomy situation requires political attention today, if the transition period as people leave the job market, is to be smooth and gradual from a society perspective.

From a societal perspective only the addressing long-term challenges makes sense as an innovation objective, whereas the cyclical hiccups are likely to be resolved through market forces as the global economy picks up. The shift in demographics is a perfect platform for a visionary politician to launch a programme of reform for the public sector; however, if budget allocations are based upon popular opinion, which changes as the news media changes focus, the cyclical issues are likely to receive proportionally larger funding than the latter, which will be difficult to promote political momentum.

Innovation management within a culture of ‘no mistakes allowed’

One hallmark of most Danish public sector institutions is the commitment to a culture of no mistakes allowed, nulfejlskultur in Danish, which essentially wipes out the incentives for civil servants to experiment. During a conference held in 2008, this culture is seen as one of the four barriers to public sector innovation in a conference, the other three being knowledge management and dissemination, lack of cross-sector collaboration, and lack of competencies.

Readers of InnovationManagement will know that innovation involves experimentation and making mistakes. The trick is demonstrate rapid learning from these mistakes. If a ‘no mistakes allowed’ culture predominates, then there can be no experimentation without putting one’s career at risk. And if knowledge management and dissemination or lack thereof is a barrier to innovation within the sector, how can mistakes be turned into learning, and then value?

When ideas management begins to resemble budgeting

The writer has participated in an innovation management process in a public sector institution, aimed originally at collecting and qualifying ideas from all parts of the organisation, but which developed into a study on how to instil trust and create transparency about the organization of a new ideas management process designed to reduce the internal politics governing departments that perceived ideas management as being similar to the annual budgeting process. The root cause of this lies usually in the way that most public institutions are organised into ministries, departments and institutions, each responsible for only a small part of the puzzle, but publicly liable for the finished puzzle. The second barrier identified above, of lack of cross sector collaboration.

If the ideas management process lacks transparency and trust, it can hardly be expected that the innovation management process will be embraced and used? Most companies have mechanisms for proposing new ideas and seeing their progression to maturity; however this does not apply to most of the public sector. Studies show that people are motivated by intrinsic factors, such as seeing one’s ideas taken up and developed. If the innovation management process is fragmented and lacks transparency, then it cannot be expected that ideas will flow within the sector: they are more likely to be buried or spun off as a private sector company.

For example, was talking to the CEO of a UK-based consultancy firm which assists public healthcare administrators collect and patent ideas conceived on healthcare premises. The biggest problem for this company is the lack of incentive for healthcare personnel to present their ideas to the administration rather than developing them externally – and selling them back to the healthcare system.

Taking control of the user-driven innovation process

In Denmark, and most Nordic countries, public sector innovation is frequently based on user-driven innovation projects. The object often is the beneficiary of the public services, e.g. the elderly. If the four barriers to public sector innovation are so strong and so difficult to break down in the near term, could a reversal of the user-driven innovation project be the solution? Should we be trying to apply anthropological methodologies to understanding how the sector works, and presenting our insights as the basis for public sector innovation? Should we be trying to take charge of the co-creation process, but from a civic perspective? Tell me what you think!

By Frode Lundsten, Contributing Editor, Denmark

Leadership is a Gift. Four Signs You’re Worthy by Lisa Petrilli

Leadership is a Gift. Four Signs You’re Worthy

29 Sep

by Lisa Petrilli…

The ability to lead is a rare gift. The opportunity to lead is just as precious.

Have you ever thought about whether you’re worthy of these gifts? 

I had the honor and privilege to be asked to speak at an organ donation dinner and celebration last night.  The gentleman before me on the agenda, my friend Tim, spoke about “the gift of donation,” while I spoke about “the gift of receiving.” 

Tim’s presentation is about his daughter Samantha who lost her life in a car accident on the way to school one rainy morning when she was a senior in high school. Part of his presentation involves a slide show of Samantha growing up, set to moving music, concluding with a photo of Samantha and her boyfriend all dressed up for the Homecoming dance just 10 days before she died. She was spectacularly beautiful.

Tim talked achingly about what he’s missed out on…seeing her graduate, watching her go off to college, dancing with her at her wedding, playing with his grandchildren that will never be…

He then spoke about the gift of organ donation – how Samantha was able to help save 25 people through her gift of life, and how he was so moved by his experiences speaking about Samantha’s gift that he himself chose to donate his kidney last May to someone he’s never met.  There was not a dry eye in the room and, truth be told, I have tears streaming down my face even as I write this.

And so I got up to speak about the gift of receiving.

I was supposed to be the “happy” part of the program and yet I was moved to talk about the difficulty for recipients in knowing that – for most recipients – someone like Samantha had to lose their life in order for us to live ours.  Though there is a miracle in this gift there is deep pain as well.  We know that it helps the families to heal by knowing that their loved one is helping us to live, and yet, how do you reconcile your own sense of gain with the extraordinary loss felt by others?

In my case, my donor gave consciously and wholeheartedly.  She told me that she felt it was what God had meant for her to do and that she didn’t need that extra kidney and so very genuinely wanted me to have it.

My friend Rob Rose wrote to me once that he heard, “a true gift is one that someone wants to receive.”  I absolutely wanted the gift, and the way it was given made it so easy for me to receive – and yet – I struggle to this day with feelings of unworthiness. 

“What makes me worthy to receive the gift of someone else’s life? 

We don’t really think about whether we’re worthy to receive birthday gifts or Christmas gifts or graduation gifts.  But what about the other, more significant gifts in our life – should we reflect on our worthiness to receive and, if so, our responsibility to do something with them?

Which brings me full circle to leadership.  What makes someone worthy of being a leader?

I believe in my heart that the ability to be a truly great leader is a gift that many people have within them, but that the self-awareness to bring it out and make it sing is actually rare.

I also believe that having the opportunity to lead – being put in a position of leadership over others – is a gift not to be taken for granted.

Deep down inside I know that my worthiness to receive the gift of life is very simple; purely by being an imperfect human and child of God I am worthy.  And yet, I believe that with leadership it is not nearly so simple -that leaders need to live their worthiness every day. 

I believe in these four key indicators that they are doing so…

  1. They have a deep understanding of their responsibility to treat others with great respect regardless of title or rank in the organization, age, gender, race, ethnicity, or any other factor. If respect is not part of who you are then I don’t think you’re worthy to lead.  It’s not to say you won’t be successful driving financial results, it simply means you’ve done so out of force or sheer will and not leadership.
  2. They understand their responsibility to have a vision for the organization that they are leading and to clearly communicate this vision to their employees so that every member of the organization understands what they’re working towards creating.
  3. There is a set of strong, core values that the organization commits to and lives by, with the leader being held most accountable.
  4. They show they value their employees – the people they’ve been entrusted with the opportunity to lead. They actively seek out and engage insight and ideas from all levels of their organization and not just the C-Suite or senior management.


I believe the gift of leadership is one that is meant to be honored and respected; meant to be unwrapped purposefully, with a clear understanding of the degree of responsibility that it comes with. It’s the ones who are truly grateful for the gift and treat it with sincere respect that I believe are worthy of their roles and who ultimately make the most successful leaders.

What do you think…?

The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500 | Management Innovation eXchange

The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500

The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500


Gary Hamel will talk with HCL Technologies CEO and MIX Maverick Vineet Nayar about the challenges inherent in managing Generation Y, in an exclusive webinar for MIX registered members on Oct. 4, 2010. Plan to attend “Managing Millennials: The ‘Employees First, Customers Second’ Experiment.” 

The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of “Generation F” – the Facebook Generation. At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy.

If your company hopes to attract the most creative and energetic members of Gen F, it will need to understand these Internet-derived expectations, and then reinvent its management practices accordingly. Sure, it’s a buyer’s market for talent right now, but that won’t always be the case—and in the future, any company that lacks a vital core of Gen F employees will soon find itself stuck in the mud.

With that in mind, I compiled a list of 12 work-relevant characteristics of online life. These are the post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is “with it” or “past it.” In assembling this short list, I haven’t tried to catalog every salient feature of the Web’s social milieu, only those that are most at odds with the legacy practices found in large companies.

1. All ideas compete on an equal footing. On the Web, every idea has the chance to gain a following—or not, and no one has the power to kill off a subversive idea or squelch an embarrassing debate. Ideas gain traction based on their perceived merits, rather than on the political power of their sponsors.

2. Contribution counts for more than credentials. When you post a video to YouTube, no one asks you if you went to film school. When you write a blog, no one cares whether you have a journalism degree. Position, title, and academic degrees—none of the usual status differentiators carry much weight online. On the Web, what counts is not your resume, but what you can contribute.

3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed. In any Web forum there are some individuals who command more respect and attention than others—and have more influence as a consequence. Critically, though, these individuals haven’t been appointed by some superior authority. Instead, their clout reflects the freely given approbation of their peers. On the Web, authority trickles up, not down.

 4. Leaders serve rather than preside. On the Web, every leader is a servant leader; no one has the power to command or sanction. Credible arguments, demonstrated expertise and selfless behavior are the only levers for getting things done through other people. Forget this online, and your followers will soon abandon you.

 5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned. The Web is an opt-in economy. Whether contributing to a blog, working on an open source project, or sharing advice in a forum, people choose to work on the things that interest them. Everyone is an independent contractor, and everyone scratches their own itch.

6. Groups are self-defining and self-organizing. On the Web, you get to choose your compatriots. In any online community, you have the freedom to link up with some individuals and ignore the rest, to share deeply with some folks and not at all with others. Just as no one can assign you a boring task, no can force you to work with dim-witted colleagues.

7. Resources get attracted, not allocated. In large organizations, resources get allocated top-down, in a politicized, Soviet-style budget wrangle. On the Web, human effort flows towards ideas and projects that are attractive (and fun), and away from those that aren’t. In this sense, the Web is a market economy where millions of individuals get to decide, moment by moment, how to spend the precious currency of their time and attention.

8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it. The Web is also a gift economy. To gain influence and status, you have to give away your expertise and content. And you must do it quickly; if you don’t, someone else will beat you to the punch—and garner the credit that might have been yours. Online, there are a lot of incentives to share, and few incentives to hoard.

 9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed. On the Internet, truly smart ideas rapidly gain a following no matter how disruptive they may be. The Web is a near-perfect medium for aggregating the wisdom of the crowd—whether in formally organized opinion markets or in casual discussion groups. And once aggregated, the voice of the masses can be used as a battering ram to challenge the entrenched interests of institutions in the offline world.

10. Users can veto most policy decisions. As many Internet moguls have learned to their sorrow, online users are opinionated and vociferous—and will quickly attack any decision or policy change that seems contrary to the community’s interests. The only way to keep users loyal is to give them a substantial say in key decisions. You may have built the community, but the users really own it.

11. Intrinsic rewards matter most. The web is a testament to the power of intrinsic rewards. Think of all the articles contributed to Wikipedia, all the open source software created, all the advice freely given—add up the hours of volunteer time and it’s obvious that human beings will give generously of themselves when they’re given the chance to contribute to something they actually care about. Money’s great, but so is recognition and the joy of accomplishment.

12. Hackers are heroes. Large organizations tend to make life uncomfortable for activists and rabble-rousers—however constructive they may be. In contrast, online communities frequently embrace those with strong anti-authoritarian views. On the Web, muckraking malcontents are frequently celebrated as champions of the Internet’s democratic values—particularly if they’ve managed to hack a piece of code that has been interfering with what others regard as their inalienable digital rights.

These features of Web-based life are written into the social DNA of Generation F—and mostly missing from the managerial DNA of the average Fortune 500 company. Yeah, there are a lot of kids looking for jobs right now, but few of them will ever feel at home in cubicleland.

So, readers, here are a couple questions: What are the Web-based social values that you think are most contrary to the managerial DNA one finds inside a typical corporate giant? And how should we reinvent management to make it more consistent with these emerging online sensibilities?

Join in the discussion on fundamental principles for innovation

Fundamental principles for innovation – what´s your opinion?

Come join the online discussion on the fundamental principles for innovation management. The debate is sparked by an article by Heinz Essman, contributing editor on InnovationManagement from South Africa.


Heinz Essmann

In his article, Heinz Essman, contributing editor from South Africa, introduces a set of proposed fundamental principles for innovation. It is indeed a proposal and we are very interested in hearing your views on this. Welcome to read and then visit the to share your views and discuss with like-minded.

Abstract from the article

The process of realising benefits from creativity, the innovation process, can be complex. Numerous process frameworks are available to assist companies with delivering consistent innovation. These frameworks, however, always require significant modification for specific instances. So how does one go about making changes without spoiling the essence of the process? Or, how does one go about developing an innovation model from the ground up? Guidance from a set of fundamental principles is the answer.

Let your opinion be heard.

[From Join in the discussion on fundamental principles for innovation | Articles, Links, Innovation | Strategy2Tactics]

Analyse: Danske selskaber må kæmpe for overlevelse | Børsen

04-06-2010 08:50 af Sille Wulff Mortensen
Relateret indhold

Overgang fra vækstøkonomi til global aktør. Kilde: Euler Hermes
Konkurrenter fra verdens vækstområder vil snart myldre ind på det globale marked. Danske virksomheder kan vente sig kamp til stregen.

[From Nyhedsvisning – finans]

Tilmeld dig Vækstdagen 2010, hvor vi er del af programmet

Vækst en ny udfordring – Har din virksomhed oplevet hurtig vækst, og er det tid til at gentænke din strategi og ledelse?

Denne workshop vil give dig værktøjerne til at få et nyt og friskt kig på organisationen, målsætningerne, ledelsesformen og kreativiteten, så du kan fortsætte vækstkursen og fastholde succesen.

Man finder sjældent en virksomhed flere år på gazellelisten. Dette vidner om, at der er noget, som går galt i virksomheder, der oplever hurtig succes og vækst. Dette kan skyldes, at der ikke er opbygget de nødvendige strukturer til at fastholde og bygge videre på denne vækst, og opgaver bliver løst fra hånden til munden i en travl hverdag.

Workshoppen vil få dig til at stoppe op og tage et frisk kig på din virksomhed. Du vil blive præsenteret for en ny tilgang til ledelse, struktur, målesystemer og kreativitet, så den fortsatte succes kan fastholdes.

Der vil blive gennemgået eksempler på måleværktøjer til identificering af mangler, anvisninger på hvordan resultater kan fortolkes, og nogle af de konkrete udfordringer, du måtte sidde inde med, vil blive adresseret.
Workshoppen er af praktisk karakter med et teoretisk islæt.

Forud for workshoppen skal alle anonymt udfylde et online spørgeskema med 10 spørgsmål. Resultatet vil danne rammen for diskussion i plenum.

[From Vækst en ny udfordring – FORSIDE]