In Part 2 of this interview, Dan Goleman discusses Creativity and Innovation with Dr Martyn Newman
Dr. Martyn Newman:
So part of this year’s Summit is the theme of Creativity and Innovation. And we chose that in part Dan, because the companies that we are working with across diverse industries from big media to retail organisations to finance organisations have to deal with the huge challenge of disruption to their industries. And the big challenge it seems to me that leaders face is how they can adapt and stay relevant. How do Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness contribute to fostering the creative process?
“Creativity in terms of fulfilling its promise depends on emotional intelligence.”
Well I think the equation is very simple. I’ve already talked about how mindfulness is fundamental to self-awareness which is the foundation of Emotional Intelligence abilities for leadership but let’s look at Creativity.
There are some misapprehensions I think at large about Creativity. You need people who are non-conformist disrupters, I would say you might need 1 per company, per sector, but after that after you have the big new idea (which has the potential to change everything) you need people who can execute. That’s really what determines whether your great new idea ends up in the dust heap of venture capital (and there are so many great ideas like that which just didn’t make it) or whether it’s the one great idea that is going to come through and transform how everyone else does business. And that depends on how well people can work together, how well they can execute, how well they can have small daily wins, and all of that has to do with the fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence.
So Creativity which is a bit independent of Emotional Intelligence (really it’s a different dimension) you can have both or you can have one and not the other. But Creativity in terms of fulfilling it’s promise depends on Emotional Intelligence.
Dr. Martyn Newman:
So you are also hinting there that beyond an individual’s Creativity, that we are finding that Creativity occurs across teams. Teams who have the ability to collaborate well together seem to produce more innovative solutions. In a study we have just completed with one of our large clients with 500 leaders, we found for example the levels of Empathy and Relationship Skills that were present in the group were the most important factors for producing innovative solutions. I guess mainly because of the greater group cohesiveness allowed the creative process and ideas to flow freely. Would you agree with that?
Yes, that really sounds right to me. It fits with some research my colleague Vanessa Druskat has been doing on top performing teams, she finds that they set norms around them to collaborate most effectively. One of them is Empathy and they understand it at two levels:
- Empathy within the team – they get to know each other very well, who has strengths in certain areas and who is not so good in other areas. They consider who they might need to bring on board for their skills and talk about things that need to be brought to the surface.
- Organisational Empathy – At a larger level top teams also have organisational empathy. This means that they can read the cross currents in a complex organisation and know for example, who do they need to go to for a decision? How can they help someone else who can help them later?
So I think that your findings fit extremely well with the other data I am familiar with.