The cultural bias against creatives as leaders, Stowe Boyd
A 2010 study of 1,500 CEOs by IBM yielded a few large insights. One was that over 60% believed that creativity is the most critical competency for CEOs today.
Creative leaders — they believe — are comfortable with disruptive innovation, both as a stressor impacting the company but also as a tool for competitive advantage. They are willing to refactor operations to produce better outcomes, inventing new ways of delivering value. They tolerate ambiguity well, and are courageous and visionary.
The disconnect is that, in general, people who demonstrate these sorts of capabilities — creatives — are often passed over for management jobs. In particular, we seem to have a cultural bias against creatives. They don’t line up with the typical leadership profile, and the nature of creatives is to introduce ambiguity, which unsettles people looking for certainty. Recent research by Jennifer S. Mueller (University of Pennsylvania), Jack Goncalo (Cornell University), and Dishan Kamdar (Indian School of Business), as reported in Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?, shows this to be the case.