Career Development

Creativity in the Workplace: Characteristics and Examples

December 12, 2019

You can use high levels of creativity to your advantage in the workplace. You can put your creativity in action to find new solutions to problems, foster teamwork and come up with more efficient processes for your work. When you can quickly recognize the signs of creativity, you can begin to develop them for yourself. In this article, we will look at how creative people think and the different characteristics they have.

What is creativity?

Creativity is the act of transforming new, innovative ideas into reality. Language, art, scientific thought and advances in technology are all results of creative thought. Creative people are always asking questions and finding new solutions to problems. They may be more likely to experiment with ideas in the workplace, which can lead to new processes that benefit everyone.

People with creative minds usually follow a process when coming up with a solution to a problem. That process often involves these steps:

  1. Preparing and doing research: In this step, you gather materials and perform specific research on the task or problem you face. You also do more general research on the topic and may use more external information when problem-solving.

  2. Meditating on the problem: Instead of trying to come up with a clear solution to the problem, start to think deeply about the issue and play with different ideas that could eventually lead to a solution.

  3. Disconnecting from the problem. In this step, you take a prolonged break from working on or thinking about the issue and possible solutions to it.

  4. Letting your idea come back to you. After fully removing yourself from the problem for a set amount of time, you will often have renewed insight.

  5. Developing the idea and putting it into practice. Finally, you will be able to build on your idea and begin applying it to your work. During this step, you might consider sharing your idea with others to get feedback so that you can refine it further before putting it into practice.

Related: Character Traits: Definition and Examples

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Top characteristics of a creative person

Here are 10 attributes that creative people often possess:

  1. A mix of introversion and extroversion
  2. Willingness to take risks
  3. High levels of concentration
  4. Innovative problem-solving
  5. Challenging conformity
  6. Independence
  7. Comfort with ambiguity
  8. Thoroughness and attention to detail
  9. Openness to criticism
  10. Strong work ethic

1. Mix of introversion and extroversion

Most people tend to be either introverts or extraverts—either strongly preferring the company of others or time alone—but creative people have a tendency to display both of these personality traits. They become energized by social situations, but they also often need time alone to recharge. For example, creative types may draw inspiration from interacting with other people but need solitude in order to process their ideas.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

2. Willingness to take risks

Many creative thinkers have learned to embrace challenges at work and aren’t intimidated by the prospect of failure. By taking risks and trying new ways of doing things, creative people are able to innovate and see if their ideas work. This process also allows them to refine their ideas to the point that they can easily be used on a daily basis at work.

3. High levels of concentration

Creative people tend to lose track of time when engaged in the creative process. They become so concentrated on the task and the progress that they are making that they can work for hours at a time without realizing it. If you are immersed in a project at work that you truly enjoy, you may find yourself working on it for large periods of time.

4. Innovative problem-solving

When you think creatively, you may find it easier to apply your imagination to everyday scenarios. This can help you come up with unique solutions to the challenges you may face at work. Creative minds play with information instead of just storing it. Instead of simply accepting ideas, they question them, build on them and apply them to their lives.

5. Challenging conformity

Creative people have a strong understanding of the usual processes and norms at their workplaces, but they can easily recognize when established practices could benefit from improvement. Their work can provide a fresh perspective on what is usually accepted as normal in a workplace, allowing room for new processes that can benefit them and their coworkers.

Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples

6. Independence

While creative people may find inspiration from working on a team, they often thrive with minimal supervision. They tend to be independent, work well alone and embrace the skills that may make them different from their coworkers. For example, a creative writer may experience more success in writing advertisements for their company when they have enough time to come up with ideas on their own.

7. Comfort with ambiguity

Creative people are good at accepting ambiguous situations in which more than one thing is true or where the truth is uncertain. When you approach workplace situations with this type of mindset, it can be easier to look for more than one solution to a problem. This can allow for more experimentation, leading to innovative solutions to challenges at your job.

Thoroughness and attention to detail

Creative minds tend to value good preparation and think about possible solutions to problems from multiple angles. They think of possible issues they may need to improve before they put their ideas into practice. When you think creatively, you can become accustomed to thoroughly planning out your ideas and testing them before presenting them to your coworkers.

Related: What Is Strategic Planning? Definition, Techniques and Examples

Openness to criticism

Creative people are emotionally invested in their work, but they should remain objective when reviewing everyone’s work, including their own. This means that they are often open to constructive criticism and view their own work fairly. They use feedback to improve their ideas and continue to learn.

Strong work ethic

As you develop your creativity, you may become more aware of the effort that goes into being creative. This may help you take your work seriously and remain realistic about the amount of time and thought it will take to complete a project. This is a characteristic that you may find greatly improves over time as you become more comfortable with your approach to work.