Four myths about creative people that it's time to debunk
Like any stereotype, there are some elements of truth in all of them, but they oversimplify reality and create a lot of roadblocks to healthy collaboration.
There are a handful of commonly held misunderstandings about creative people that I regularly encounter when talking with leaders. Like any stereotype, there are some elements of truth in all of them, but they oversimplify reality and create a lot of roadblocks to healthy collaboration. In addition, when you hold any of these myths to be true, even subconsciously, it can affect your ability to give your team what it truly needs from you.
Myth 1: Creative people just want total freedom.
I hear this all the time from leaders who come from less traditionally “creative” roles. There is a standing belief that creative people want to remove all boundaries so that they can have a wide-open field to play in. This perception is often the result of creative people on their team having pushed back against overly constrictive boundaries or challenged a direction with which they disagree, but it’s not indicative of what most creative people truly want or need from their leadership.
The truth is that creative people want boundaries. They crave boundaries. A wide-open playing field is not helpful to the creative process. Although it sounds strange to many people, the most common complaint that I hear from creative people is that they lack a predictable environment in which to do their work. (More on that below.) They know that they need clearly defined boundaries and resources so that they can focus on doing what they do best.
However, when forced to choose between being overly restricted and completely free, creative people will choose freedom, which is not always in their best interest. Thus, striking a healthy balance is your role as the leader, and it’s essential to good collaboration.
Myth 2: Creative people care only about how “cool” the idea is.
Another persistent myth is that creative people aren’t concerned with the result, and they just want to work on something that feels cool and edgy and lets them exercise their creative muscles. This is also largely untrue. Most of the highly creative people I encounter are professionals and are very concerned with results. They understand that results equate to revenue, which equates to more work (and an on-time mortgage payment.)
However, they also get frustrated when an obsession with practicality means prematurely sacrificing creative possibility. Settling quickly on the easiest and most apparent answer and then moving straight to execution might seem like an efficient use of resources, but it often means failing to bring the best thought and effort to the project, which is demoralizing to the team. Over time, this approach is a recipe for burnout and turnover, both of which cost the organization dearly.
Myth 3: Creative people lack analytical ability or business acumen.
I’ve heard the equivalent of “Just focus on making things look good, and let me worry about the strategy” tossed out in a meeting. Not in those words, of course, but the sentiment is still there. The truth is that most creatives have a well-honed analytical process, which is essential to their creative process. It is often a circuitous one, analyzing many sides of the problem at once, rather than the linear, straight-line analysis that many strategists use. Consequently, it often yields insights that others have overlooked.
The kind of systems thinking that creative people provide is of tremendous value to the organization and should be welcomed at the table during strategic discussions. As we’ll see in a later chapter, inviting input into the process is also a way to reinforce trust on your team.
Myth 4: Creative people are either egomaniacs or completely insecure.
It’s important to distinguish between actions and traits. Yes, many creative people respond to a change in an im- portant project or to a difficult conversation by posturing or leading with their egos. Some completely retreat into themselves and need constant reassurance that they’re on the right track. However, don’t think that this is how they would prefer things to be. Many creative people have developed learned responses to unhealthy organiza- tional dynamics, and they are simply acting out of self-protection.
Again, this isn’t always the case. I’ve run into some remarkable egomaniacs out there, and there are some people who lack simple self-confidence. However, more often than not these exhibitions are an attempt to communicate that there is something they aren’t get- ting from you or the organization.
Myth 5: Creative people tend to be flighty or flaky.
One of the common misconceptions about highly creative people is that they are quick to jump ship when a more interesting idea comes along. They will work hard until they are no longer interested, and then they’ll lose interest and phone it in so that they can work on the idea they really like.
The truth is that most highly creative people are extremely committed to their craft or area of specialty, but they can certainly be distractible if not led well. There is a method to their madness, though, and because they tend to be more aware of stimuli in the environment and tend to be able to make loose connections between them more easily, they can quickly get off track. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature. This awareness and ability to see patterns can be of tremendous benefit if it can be channeled into the work that the organization values. However, you need to do your job as a leader and regularly communicate your values, the problem you’re trying to solve, and the existing constraints for the project so that the team understands its parameters well.
I realize that I have been painting with a broad brush. Are there creative people who want total freedom? Of course. Are some flaky and unable to focus? Sure. Are there creative people with overinflated egos? You bet. However, holding these broad stereotypes about creatives does more damage than good, and you can’t let them persist inside your organization. You need to fight for and defend your team. Every creative pro is unique and will have to be strategically and intentionally led, but there are a few things that most of them need in order to thrive.
Excerpted from Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Need by Todd
Henry, published on January 16, 2018 by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Todd Henry.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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