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Become a connoisseur of people’s ideas

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

For you to lead in a competitive environment, you have to choose the best people, have the best information and recognize and support the best ideas.

To encourage creativity, you don’t have to be creative yourself. But you do have to become a connoisseur of creativity who can recognize good ideas and people.

“Nowadays, we believe that all it takes to produce creativity is to get people to ‘think outside the box,’ to be more imaginative and original,”says creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. But without the right information and a supportive community, “creative thinking alone has no chance of producing anything worthwhile.”

To recognize the best people, look for interest bordering on obsession. It takes a person genuinely in love with a branch of work to push beyond what is known, beyond where it is safe. Of course, you want to make sure the person is competent and honest, but what differentiates the creative worker is intrinsic motivation:the willingness to do the work for its own sake.

Hire those people, listen to them, use their ideas whenever you can, credit them and reward them.

— Adapted from “The Context of Creativity,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Future of Leadership, Jossey-Bass.

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