Creativity is perhaps the hardest strength to flex at work but can add the greatest value.
Many introverts are creative. This is linked to our thought-provoking, introspective nature and sharpened by our draw toward alone time to re-energize. During this alone time, we may meditate or read, but often we find the recuperative power of art, music, cooking, or writing to name just a few. These help us form unique perspectives on the world.
The Call for Creativity
Many of our corporate settings appear stuffy, homogeneous, and prescriptive. I can't believe these are the adjectives executives are seeking for their culture, yet it happens. More extroverted staff tend to drive that status quo toward financial objectives. This trait is helpful in meeting corporate objectives. Yet, it also masks the creativity that is needed to differentiate teams and companies from their competition and help drive unique offerings and solutions that consumers are seeking.
Corporate culture needs to ensure adequate space for creativity...
This can be achieved in 3 ways:
Agendas and preread for meetings should be shared in advance to allow introverts time to familiarize themselves with the topics and generate creative ideas beforehand.
Meeting leaders should provide time & space in meetings to encourage everyone's participation. Introduce topics and give everyone some time to brainstorm individually and place sticky notes on the walk for more team-oriented discussion. Introverts often are challenged to think off the top of their heads. This will help.
Quiet space should be provided on the work floor. Open benches or cubicles don't tend to foster creative thinking. Ensure everyone has access to thinking rooms for themselves or a small group. Better yet, support team members walking outside. This is not an escape from work, but an extension that helps the brain relax and expand.
I never considered myself to be very creative during my 30 years in corporate America. However, once I retired and shed the meetings, spreadsheets, and todo lists (for the most part), I found my brain shifted from the more structured left brain to the more creative right brain. Suddenly, I had greater appreciation for the outdoor. I "saw" more on my walks. I had more time for my mind to wander and contemplate esoteric topics I felt too busy to consider while I was working. I was never able to dive back into my teenage passion for writing while I was working. I just couldn't traverse from the left to right brain after an exhausting day at work. Finally, I got reacquainted once I retired. Do we have to wait for retirement? How can we unleash our creativity at work?
...and Creative introverts need to unleash their talents in the workplace.
Bucking the prevalent corporate culture is not easy. Try these steps to unleash your talents:
Find your creativity. As noted in the vignette above, it's oftentimes hard to recognize your own creativity if you are so absorbed in the structure, deadlines, and deliverables that so often dominate corporate life. Start with some creativity outside work. Buy some paint. Start to journal. Do some needlepoint or woodwork at night and on weekends. Find those outlets that let your mind escape.
Create space at work for that same environment. Take walks, listen to music, and have a doodle book or journal that your use to transform your brain toward the right.
Then, with work items still at your deep-rooted core, consider upcoming projects or work issues with a more creative lens. Fight off the standard cookie-cutter, procedural solutions and consider new approaches. Brainstorm or mindmap without limitations or inhibitions.
Your intuition is your friend. See where it drives you, what ideas it has, and what they may look like.
Be sure to document your ideas so that when you get distracted by corporate structure, you won't lose the fruits of your creative labor.
Creativity is all about releasing your authentic self and having the confidence to run with it and share those ideas and solutions with others.
Not only can this approach change your team, but you will gain a sense of pride that you are bringing your true self to the table and it is making a difference!
Your leadership wants to tap the diverse thinking of the whole team. They just don't know how to do it. They may find your creative approach a bit startling, but they will soon realize this is exactly what the business needs to be on top!
The Keys to Your Strength
Creativity is one of an introvert's most hidden talents.
Discover your creative talents at home.
Create a relaxing environment for brainstorming at work.
Evaluate work projects, meetings, and deliverables through a more creative lens.
Share your unique approach with co-workers and leadership.
This spring we will continue to explore common introvert strengths through the model (right) as well as the stories and examples others share.
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The Questions Introverts Ponder
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Introversion often feels so alone; many assume no one else could feel this way. This book contains many of the questions that have been asked, often by introverts trying to understand this personality trait that can at times govern our lives.
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What's Below the Surface?
10 Proven Strategies to Embrace our Labels…and Ourselves