Creativity is all around us. We can’t escape it. There are those of us whose livelihood depends on creativity, the designers, artists, writers, etc. There are countless others who are affected by creative surroundings and may not realize it. Whether or not we do, we all have emotions that definitely affect creativity.
But what if we feel creatively deprived? What if a designer feels one day that he/she just doesn’t feel inspired? What if we feel we’re having an “off” day?
A recent study in the Journal of Creative Behavior shows the power of emotional intelligence to make creativity happen. The study from the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence found that emotionally intelligent supervisors create a climate that benefits creativity and innovation in those they work with.
Zorana Ivcevic Pringle, Ph.D., provided the synopsis of the study, highlights of which are outlined in this blog post. Dr. Pringle is a Senior Research Scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She studies the role of emotion and emotion skills in creativity and well-being, as well as how to use the arts (and art-related institutions) to promote emotion and creativity skills.
What do emotionally intelligent supervisors do? First, they are skilled at reading employees’ emotions, such as realizing when someone is upset or disappointed or when they are worried about changes at work. They not only can read emotions but acknowledge them explicitly.
Second, they help employees channel their feelings toward achieving important goals. They inspire enthusiasm and they model decision making that takes into account both optimistic and pessimistic voices (and concerns and hopes behind them).
Third, emotionally intelligent supervisors understand how different decisions or events affect people’s experiences at work. And finally, they are able to successfully manage their own emotions, as well as help employees when they are upset or frustrated.
The just-published Yale study asked three groups of questions: One group of questions asked people to describe their supervisors’ behavior. Another group of questions asked about people’s emotional experiences of work. Finally, the third group of questions asked to what extent people have opportunities to grow and make progress at work and how often they are creative at work.
The study results show that when supervisors acknowledge that employees have feelings and that these emotional experiences matter, the work climate becomes more positive and supportive. Employees described dramatically different emotional experiences if they had supervisors who acted in emotionally intelligent ways or not.
The quality of relationships spilled into feelings about employees’ duties and tasks, and that, in turn, affected creativity and innovation in what they accomplished. Our study suggests that supervisors’ emotional intelligence is a job resource for their employees that helps both their wellbeing and successful performance at work.
When people were asked how they feel about work in their own words, two-thirds of the top feelings mentioned by those whose supervisors were emotionally intelligent were positive, while 70 percent of the top feelings mentioned by those whose supervisors were not emotionally intelligent were negative.
Those whose supervisors were emotionally intelligent mentioned being happy three times more often than being stressed. By contrast, those whose supervisors do not show emotional intelligence most often said they were frustrated and stressed.
How do supervisors and leaders make a difference for their employees’ ability to be creative? Organizational behavior scholars Jing Zhou and Jennifer George have shown that emotionally intelligent supervisors know that emotions provide information about ourselves, the environment, and those around us.
Emotionally intelligent supervisors are able to notice employee dissatisfaction, recognize that dissatisfaction conveys information about a real problem, and can find a way to approach this problem as an opportunity for improvement. Emotionally intelligent supervisors can manage their own and employees’ emotions to help with creative work. They can recognize when people are overly optimistic and can provide informative feedback to prevent settling on ideas prematurely and inspire persistence.
The Yale study shows that supervisors can create a climate where employees have opportunities to grow and are inspired and motivated in their jobs. Supervisors who acknowledge that employees cannot leave emotions at the door, who recognize employees’ feelings, understand where they are coming from, and who help employees manage their feelings, will have both happier and more creative employees.
The results are relevant for anyone who influences others, such as teachers working with students or parents with their children. The emotional climate we create will influence both how those around us feel and what they are able to do.
This holds true for various sets of employees and those independent contractors whose specialties involve creativity and positive emotions. Indeed, the corporate world needs to be aware of this more than ever, especially when an increasing number of employees are rethinking a return to the office.
Here’s to positive re-enforcement of emotions amidst a favorable environment of creativity!
Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!
Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.