Friday, February 18, 2011

Penalty for Creative Individuals?

Jennifer Mueller, Jack Goncalo, and Dishan Kamdar have written a provocative new paper titled, "Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?" They find that creative individuals may face a "penalty" when it comes to others assessing their leadership potential. The authors conducted three studies that showed that people have a tendency to view creative individuals as having less leadership potential (unless they are told to focus on charismatic individuals). Why might that be? The authors argue that people tend to have mixed feelings about creative individuals. Mueller explains, "In addition to 'visionary' and 'charismatic,' people also use words like 'quirky,' 'unfocused' [and] 'nonconformist.' The fact is people don't feel just positively about creative individuals -- they feel ambivalent about them." The research demonstrates a powerful dilemma. On the one hand, people express a strong desire to have creativity as a characteristic of their leaders. One the other hand, when people offer out-of-the-box ideas, they sometimes are viewed in a negative light. People think that they are strange or perplexing.

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