What is the most important quality in a creative businessperson? Fast Company did a survey of its Most Creative People list to help us find the answer (“Most Creative People” February 2014, pp. 47–51). The results are quite interesting and even a bit counterintuitive (p. 48).
The top quality in creative businesspersons, identified by 35%, is a willingness to kill ideas they love. Why would I have a willingness to kill an idea I love if I am a highly creative businessperson? Why would I be so willing to kill good ideas if I should be in the business of creating good ideas? The reason is sometimes I must kill an idea I love to make room for a better idea. We must never marry an idea. Those relationships do not end well. Marrying an idea keeps me stuck to that one idea. I will have no ability to see another idea.
The second most important quality, identified by 29%, is being an easy collaborator. This makes great sense. You have to be able to get along with other people. You have to be willing to work with other people, exchange ideas, share and receive diverse perspectives, and get things done with other people. You can have the most creative ideas of all time, but you will not get very far with them by being a hermit or an outcast. Be an easy collaborator and see how much more creative you will be.
The third most important quality, identified by 28%, is being a fast idea generator. Hey, with all this idea killing and collaboration with others, you had better be pumping them out real fast. You do not want the idea pipeline to run dry. You always need to be brainstorming, strategizing, and conceptualizing for your business.
The fourth most important quality, identified by 8%, is being good with time management. Time management helps you to do better at whatever it is you are doing. Nevertheless, it is important to compare the relative percentages across all four of these qualities. At 8%, time management arrived at a distant fourth place. This somewhat confirms the wild and wacky rhythms of many creative people. Time management is not necessarily their strongest gift. The takeaway here is to the extent you can improve and refine your creativity via time management, do so. On the other hand, if time management is not your specialty, do not lose any sleep over it. You probably need all you can get.