How to Avoid “Creative Entitlement”

Having only a small group of people within your organization that identify as “creative” can lead not only to cliques but it can also lead to rule avoidance and unethical behavior.

Creativity is good, but recent research has highlighted its downsides: If a select few in your organization know they are “more” creative than others, they’re more likely to be dishonest and feel entitled to do immoral acts. What could prevent this “creative entitlement” from happening is making sure all of your employees see themselves as creative, not just an elite few. Creativity researchers and management professors Lynne C. Vincent and Maryam Kouchaki suggest we do this by:

  1. Clearly defining what creativity is. Managers should be clear that, while risk-taking is a part of it, creativity doesn’t mean ignoring rules and moral guidelines.
  2. Emphasizing that everyone can improve their creativity. Creativity isn’t a trait, it’s a skill. Discourage the idea that creativity is for a certain few, and encourage the idea that thinking creatively can be practiced everyday.
  3. Creating a team and organizational creative identity. Companies like Apple and IDEO brand themselves as creative companies. You can start small and brand your marketing department or innovation team as creative, but make sure this mindset spreads throughout the organization.
  4. Being clear about what’s ethical and what isn’t. Make the lines of morality clear, so that no one has any special treatment.
Published February 21, 2019