The Psychology of a Successful Creative Team

Recrafted 09-29-2018   Creating a team is easy. Developing a winning team is much harder. Skill, ambition and passion are all components that need to be carefully measured and nurtured. Unlike a sports team, a creative work team has more esoteric goals and attributes, but the expertise that it takes to maximize creativity in the office is no less precise than managing a world-class soccer team or a World-Series-winning baseball team.

The Perfect Team Member

A team is made of individuals who, if working in harmony, become greater than the individual parts. This means starting with the right team members is imperative. According to an article published in the academic journal Phi Delta Kappan, being intellectually gifted requires three components. First, the individual needs to be intelligent, a quality an employer can glean at the initial interview. Second, the person needs to be creative, which is a bit harder to ascertain. Often savvy HR personnel have open-ended tests that give a reading on creativity. The third component is task commitment, and this is how the individual becomes part of a team, if the manager works it right. A truly gifted person does not give up. As a manager, you can drive creativity by rewarding individual commitment and creating a safe space for failure.

Collaborative Generosity

On an effective soccer team, the objective is to score points. Prima donnas have no place on a team because it should not matter who makes the final kick, as long as the point is scored. In the workplace, this is called collaborative generosity. Take a simple task, such as getting coffee for your boss. If a team member is unable to get the coffee, resentment can occur. Most importantly, the boss does not get the cup of coffee, which is the goal in this scenario.

As the manager, you can solve this problem with collaborative generosity. If you shift the task to one in which all employees get coffee for both themselves and for a coworker, the new corporate structure is collaborative and the workers are thankful for the team. Since we live in a world where cloud-based management and customer service systems make it easy to share tasks, collaborative generosity creates a safe space for creativity, failure and success, and task accomplishment.

Benefits of a Good Argument

Disagreements are to be expected. Take the Manhattan Project as a prime example of creative focus trained on one goal, in this case the development of the first atomic bomb. The model was to gather some of the most gifted minds, isolate them and give them a task under creative pressure. In short, they argued until they came up with a solution.

Since humans use micro-gestures as part of their communication process, face-to-face problem solving helps identify disagreements and drives them from internal dialogue into collaborative efforts. In organizations that use remote and cloud-based workspaces, the benefit of disagreements can be developed with a chat or video system. Even countries apart, a good manager can create a collaborative team of gifted, creative players.


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