The skills for creative leaders of tomorrow

This blog is part of our series “Adobe CQ Presents: Making the Modern Leader.”

While the value of creative skills is generally understood, according to Adobe CQ, just 26 percent of APAC leaders excel in fostering these skills within their teams.

Leaders with a high Adobe CQ recognise creativity is more than just art and design – it’s a set of uniquely human skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving that create real business impact. Add the COVID-19 pandemic to the mix, and the importance of creative skills is further amplified, as they become even more vital to powering business continuity and remote working.

For business leaders, the area of greatest opportunity lies in evolving their idea of what creative skills are; pushing their own thinking beyond theory and leaning into building entrepreneurial skills that can be applied across all business functions and roles.

In this episode of Adobe CQ Presents: Making the Modern Leader, Micah Friedman, chief information officer at Rosewood Hotel Group, and Yew Hwee Ng, senior managing director at Adobe Greater China, explore why creative skills will be increasingly important for driving business growth in the future, and share their advice for enterprise leaders to foster these skills within their organisations.

Here are the top takeaways from the session.

Insight 1: ‘It’s important for the leader of an organization to set the culture for creativity.’

Culture, one of the five areas of assessment in Adobe CQ, is widely considered the software of an organization, and is an indispensable element when it comes to the development of creative skills. According to Ng, leaders must shape a ‘fail fast’ culture that encourages and prioritizes skills like collaboration, openness to new ideas, and problem solving. This then creates the sense of safety for people to speak up and feel heard, thus enabling teams to try out new ideas, assess them, and solve problems with agility.

Insight 2: It’s not the non-creatives vs the creatives. We all have to be creative, just in different ways.

Both leaders agreed that creativity isn’t a skill that only expresses itself in art or design outputs. Friedman explains that it comes in many formats and exhibits itself in different ways, from how a person translates data into actionable insights and scales it across the organization, to how internal processes are improved upon and an organization restructures itself in the everchanging digital world. Additionally, the increasing convergence of various functions within an organization also blurs the line between the traditional creative roles and what were once seen as non-creative roles. When it comes to basic business functions like problem solving or identifying new opportunities, everyone must get creative for the organization to succeed.

Insight 3: ‘We look for interpersonal skills more than ever.’

COVID has evolved the skillsets that Friedman values as an enterprise leader. Now that face-to-face interactions are decreasing, being able to make meaningful connections – be it with colleagues or customers — is increasingly important. The ability to inspire trust and openness among colleagues, receptiveness to feedback, having the empathy to connect with others, and storytelling abilities to get the buy-in from diverse stakeholders, all while working remotely, are all critical to facilitating seamless collaboration, even from afar. Business leaders also need to be strategic about how they recruit and nurture the right mix of interpersonal skills, as well as technical skills to give them the output they need.

Insight 4: ‘Organizations now have to be more creative in trying to be creative.’

Collaboration is inherent to creativity, but collaboration necessitates interpersonal relationships and engagement that is difficult to replicate over video conferencing. Addressing these barriers will be a key priority for enterprise leaders going forward. ‘You can’t let the distance make you less human,’ says Friedman. Ng agrees that it’s important for enterprise leaders to have the skills to unlock new ways to encourage collaboration. Knowing how to use technology to augment creativity, and being able to challenge teams to create actionable insights out of data, will make the difference to whether an organization excels at creativity.

For more insights on how APAC enterprise leaders are pushing the boundaries of creativity in their organization, be sure to follow the Adobe LinkedIn page and access all episodes of Adobe CQ Presents: Making The Modern Leader here.