What CEOs Really Want

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What do you look for in a leader? That’s the question that IBM asked over 1500 CEOs.

Capitalizing on Complexity - IBMFrom Dubai to Dubuque, and everywhere in between, CEOs weighed in on the most important aspect of leadership. These leaders from the C-Suite talked about what they really want, in a leader.

The complexity of the worldwide markets, combined with an increased rate of change, were the top remarks.  In attempting to deal with the challenges of the current economy, business leaders cited one quality above all others that can help aspirational leaders to make a difference.

Related: Find out what Entrepreneur has to say, about Identifying Your Blind Spot

Surprisingly, the most-desired quality or characteristic was not technical competence.

It wasn’t loyalty, or communication skills, or financial acumen.

The top characteristic wasn’t charisma. Or empathy.

The number-one most important characteristic for business leaders?


That characteristic is quite surprising, when you consider the traditional definitions of creativity.  Under careful consideration, “being creative” is not always a positive and encouraging description.

For financial professionals, project managers, executives and other task- or numbers-oriented individuals, the call for creativity seems quite contrary to the training and experiences that form the very foundation of the business world.

“Creative” skills are not commonplace in shipping, accounts payable, or operations.  Or are they?

So, “creativity” is rare, shapeless, often negative, potentially dangerous and certainly counter-intuitive.  What is IBM really saying??

Creativity, in the context of business, means the power of creation.  Creativity is the way that we harness our imagination to disrupt the status quo, and find new solutions to the same old problems. The global leaders in the IBM survey seek creative solutions to experiment and innovate.  The leaders in the survey identify creativity as the antidote for the status quo, and central to the necessary disruption that is required for our collective marketplace to get unstuck.

Creativity can exist anywhere a process is created or improved. That means in shipping, accounts payable, or operations.

Creativity means many things, but at its core, the process of creation begins with an idea.

Based on current information, “what if?” opens the door to imagination – and new solutions can only come from within the realm of new ideas.  As the economy continues to expand, the leaders of tomorrow are the ones who are open to new concepts, new perspectives and new solutions.  Seeing things as they are is an important skill (awareness), but seeing things as they could be – and then making them that way – well, that takes some creativity.

Do you agree? How do you develop a workplace where creativity is allowed to thrive? How is creativity linked to innovation for you?

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