Number 1 Leadership Skill

In its 2010 study of 1,500 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, IBM discovered that chief executives believe that – “more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require creativity,” according to an IBM press release. “Less than half of global CEOs believe their enterprises are adequately prepared to handle a highly volatile, increasingly complex business environment.”  But by instilling creativity throughout the organization, today’s challenges can be met, in their view.

Creativity?  Now we’re talking.  Creative problem solving abilities and creativity in general are crucial to career and any other success, in my view, so I am excited and rather surprised.  In the past, talking with company leaders (CEOs and others), I’ve often found a lot of polite lip service to creativity when the topic is raised, the way you hear people talk politely about fostering diverse viewpoints.  It always sounds so great in theory but the reality of encouraging creativity or diverse viewpoints is actually quashed in most businesses in favor of “efficiency” or “teamwork” or simply unwillingness to deal with diverse ideas or people.  Or creative thinking.  So this is new.

Lesson for Jobseekers?

The CEOs thought that creativity would help with finding new business models, challenging the status quo, innovating, and taking risks with new ideas.  While you’d expect companies to hunker down and stick to the most tried and true solutions during this recession—that’s not what these leaders are saying.  Perhaps jobseekers should keep that in mind when seeking work.  That means they might want to highlight their creative abilities and successful challenges to the norm more than just focusing on being reliable, productive workers.  Certainly that’s something to keep in mind, at least for management positions.

The rest of the list is telling as well.  Integrity was second at 52%, global thinking received 35%, influence at 30% and at the bottom, fairness and humility at 12%.   Actually those bottom numbers are intriguing—humility is not exactly considered a big positive for CEOs or for business success in this country, and apparently fairness isn’t either.  Oh well.

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