So I’m the type of person who likes a framework, in case you didn’t know, and recently I’ve been trying to clarify to a group of leaders I am mentoring what the top qualities are that I desire in people on my various teams.

Luckily, I found this article yesterday from The 99% on The Top 5 Qualities of Productive Creatives (And How to Identify Them!), in which Jocelyn Glei lays out 5 qualities that I think apply not just to the creative industry, to to creativity and leadership in general.

Quickly, the 5 are:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Pro-activeness (initiative)
  3. Problem solving
  4. Curiosity
  5. Risk-taking

I’d suggest you read the article yourself, as Jocelyn not only lists and describes the 5 qualities, but she shows you how to test for them too.

The Qualitites That I Want

After struggling, as I said in starting, to get down my most sought after qualities in people, I think this list is pretty much bang on. Initiative, or pro-activeness, is certainly my top quality and I see it as the bedrock of the others. If someone has initiative I can deal with their issues and build up their strengths as opposed to someone who just isn’t moving in their life despite having a great set of strengths already. One of the primary roles of a team player for my teams is to lighten the leader’s load – to lighten my load – and people without initiative do the exact opposite and increase my load because now I have to continually ‘work them’ to get them to work.

Communication and problem solving are two different skills but both joint second for me. Communication is a no-brainer – someone with poor communication slows the team down. Problem solving is perhaps similar to initiative, but I would see it as a distinct creative quality that shows lateral thinking. I know people who can take the initiative, but they can’t problem solve.

Curiosity and risk-taking are at the lower end of my list and I’m not sure if I would keep the list at 5 qualities to keep them in – I might just make mine 3 and remove them. Or I might replace them with something like loyalty, faithfulness, trust worthiness, etc.

Your Leading Thoughts: What Are Your Top Qualities?

  1. What is your list of 3, and then your list of 5?
  2. If there had to be ONE top quality above all others, which could you make it?

Photo courtesy of Cishore

Archived Comments

  • Brian Driggs

    That’s a pretty good list. Mine would be: communication, risk-taking, and creativity.

    If I were to pick any one to rank higher than the others, I think it would have to be communication. Effective communication leads to stronger relationships based on trust. Trust that we’re all going to look out for and support each other through thick and thin. I’d place trust above all others, but believe an effective communicator enables trust.

    Still enamored with the words of Dov Seidman, I’d put risk-taking second. Where there is trust among team members, risk seems less risky. I think this emboldens people to voice and try new ideas, to innovate, which ultimately leads to progress. (If you’ve not read Seidman’s book “How,” I cannot recommend it enough.)

    Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I agree wholeheartedly. Imagination stems from curiosity and, in secure environments of trust and communication, leads to those new risks being taken. Imagination is bigger than “big picture” thinking. It is possession of a vision. Is imagination interchangeable with creativity?

    All that said, I see the above not as a cycle or framework, but as a hollistic, all-encompassing environment for positive change in the world. Communication enables trust, which enables risk and innovation, but creative imagination shared with others results in ownership and all that. How can it be put into any particular order?

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Brian

    Sorry about the delayed reply.

    Thanks for the build and the new perspective to look at this with – it’s very helpful to me. I’ll make sure I give Siedman’s “How” a go too.

    I’d be interested to know where you’d rate faithfulness and loyalty?