What Is Creative Potential and How to Transform It Into Business Outcomes


March 26, 2024

Imagine walking into a room filled with the brightest minds, each one bouncing ideas off the other. You bathe in the energy of possibilities!

That’s the power of creative potential. It’s the blend of imagination, problem-solving, and innovation that lives inside of all of us. Wrapping your arms around your creative potential is your secret weapon in the business race. 

But it takes more than just spotting creativity. It’s about smartly weaving it into your company’s culture to really shake things up. When you encourage and guide creativity, you open doors to new, great, and reliable ideas that can skyrocket your business.

Quick Takeaways

  • It’s important to find and nurture the innate creativity in your team. Look for people who think differently and regularly raise their hand with a new perspective.
  • Keep your team’s creative energy alive by keeping them engaged and motivated. Engaged employees are more likely to bring valuable ideas to the table. 
  • As a leader, your confidence and approach to innovation makes a huge difference on your team’s creative output. Make sure you lead by example and show people what you want them to do, not just give vague orders.
  • In the rush to meet deadlines, creativity often gets sidelined. It’s key to find a balance that allows for both efficient output and creative exploration. 

Recognizing the creative geniuses among us

Companies are waking up to the fact that creativity is changing the way teams tackle challenges. While there’s a lot of talk about the latest tech and AI, it’s really the creative people who get things done. 

But not everybody gets the chance to show what they’re made of. Only 35% of employees say they get opportunities to be creative and even then, it’s just a few times a year​​.

Spotting those lightbulb-loving employees isn’t too tricky once you know what to look for. They’re generally the ones always asking “Why?” They love flipping a problem on its head so they can see it from a new angle. Your geniuses aren’t only the extroverted talkers, they can also be the quiet thinkers in the corner.

Whoever they are, keep this in mind: Creativity isn’t just about dreaming up wild ideas. It’s about tackling problems by looking at them in different ways. 

Keep in mind that if you want to encourage this mindset, it’s important to point out when you see people using their unconventional thinking and reward them for using their creativity in…well…creative ways. Having the skill is one thing, but nurturing it, growing it, and using it is where the magic happens.

Fueling the creative fire

Let’s say you already have a team brimming with creative potential. Now you need to keep that excitement alive. 

The engagement game

Here’s a head-scratcher: Even though everyone’s talking about creativity, a Gallup survey found that only about a third of U.S. employees feel truly engaged at work – and being emotionally engaged is a huge part of creative thinking​​. At the other end of this disengagement are executives, 71% of whom preach that engaging employees is a big part of what they expect to make their company successful. 

Graph shows that says 71% of executives admit that employee engagement is crucial to their company’s success

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If your team’s not feeling it, they’re not dreaming up those big ideas. When they’re engaged, their antennae are up and they see opportunities everywhere.

That’s why it’s so important to tap into what makes your team tick. Keep your focus on recognizing and encouraging the kinds of behavior and outcomes you’d like to see and people are more likely to speak up and share their ideas.

Leaders, take note

Heads up: A DDI study showed a serious drop in the confidence people have in their leaders – the lowest in a decade​​. 

graph shows recent drop in leadership confidence

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You’re the role models. And when it comes to how your team shows up everyday, a lot hinges on how you show up. They’ll follow your lead everytime. If you’re optimistic and ready to jump into whatever’s next, your team will feel the same. They’ll gear up and be ready to explore new creative territories.

Cracking the code

Keeping that creative fire burning bright is all about engagement, trust, flexibility, and leadership. Here’s how you can turn things around:

  1. Talk the talk: Make sure your team knows what’s going on. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how little leaders share with their team. When people know what you expect from them, they’re more likely to bring their A-game.
  2. Trust is a must: Do everything you can to make sure people feel trusted and that they have each other’s backs. That’s when they’re more comfortable sharing those whack-a-doodle ideas.
  3. Leadership 101: When you’re at the top, there’s simply no room for complacency. Think workshops, training sessions, or even a good old brainstorming session. The more unconventional the better. Show your team that you’re invested in their creative growth.

Navigating through creative obstacles

Think about things getting in the way of your best ideas: not having enough resources, too many rules, or just hearing the same kinds of ideas over and over. These things can really throw a wrench in the works, making it super tough to come up with the unconventional ideas we hope for. 

Reframe situations so you can break through your creative blocks with any one of these approaches: 

  1. Time’s a tricky thing: Everyone wishes they had more hours in the day. But it’s not about finding more time, it’s about using it wisely. Mix up quick tasks with the big ones. That way, you can keep the creativity going without burning out.
  2. Collaborate with other creative thinkers: You may have heard that two heads are better than one. It’s totally true. When you brainstorm with others, you get to bounce around ideas and see things with a completely fresh perspective. 
  3. Beat the fear factor: Sometimes, what holds us back is, well, us. Fear of messing up, fear of looking silly – you name it. The key: Just go for it. Try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them. Every great idea started out as a ‘what if.’
  4. Pick and choose your battles: Not every task needs your genius touch. Save your creative juice for the really good stuff. For everything else, delegate it or get it done without overthinking. That way, you keep your creative tank full for when it really counts.

Remember, it’s all about making it work for you in the real world. No fancy tricks, just straight-up, practical ways to keep those ideas coming.

Creative potential: Your gateway to innovative success

Helping your team get their creative juices flowing is completely worth the time you’ll invest. When you point out that potential is all around you, fuel people’s passions, and talk through how ideas can turn into real-world business wins, it’s easier for your team to believe it’s possible. 

You’ll start seeing hidden creative potential come rushing out of the most unexpected people and places. And that, truly, is the secret to innovation. Keep this energy alive and watch as your team’s creativity becomes your business’s biggest asset. 

Ready to harness your team’s creative potential? I’d love to help! Drop me an email and let’s talk about how nurturing creative thinking on your team can amplify everyone’s performance.

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.