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Creativity - the must-have skill for future generations

Millennials and Generation Z need to possess a vital attribute if they are going to effectively navigate society and play a decisive and leading role in the future. Creativity.

NEWS 4 Sept 2023

Anyone aiming to endure and thrive in today’s fast-paced world needs to embrace change, view challenges as opportunities, innovate relentlessly to address challenges, and seek out fresh perspectives and learnings. And that requires a creative mindset.

For many children and young people, schools play a key role in sparking and nurturing creativity. A carefully constructed curriculum that encourages out-of-the-box thinking, challenges young minds to seek different perspectives and supports them to push through barriers is a curriculum that will craft future leaders.

But all too often, schools dampen the innate creativity of children. This is not necessarily a deliberate step but can result from a narrow focus on academic achievement and through regarding subjects that particularly foster creativity — the Arts — as somehow being ‘less than’.

Creativity is inherent in all children — every young child knows how to move around and dance when they hear music for example. Children and young people automatically bring a refreshing and unexpected viewpoint to an issue or debate.

But that innate and vital creativity can be dampened when opportunities to take part in the kinds of activities and subjects that value and nurture creativity are gradually reduced.

“For example, at school, parents may discourage children from studying Arts-based subjects because they feel they won’t be useful when looking for a job or career,” says Dr Nicholas Grigsby, Head of Senior Schools at Haileybury.

“In some schools, the Arts are way down the bottom of the subjects list because they’re not perceived to be of as much value. Haileybury understands the transformative power of the Arts in unlocking creativity which can empower capable students to attain top ATARs and head off to university, follow vocational pathways, or launch their own business”

In 2020, a comprehensive study conducted by LinkedIn, involving over 660 million professionals across diverse industries and roles, revealed creativity as the skill most sought after by employers. Alongside creativity, the top five in-demand ‘soft skills’ were persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

Arts-based subjects develop and deliver all these skills in spades.

Rachelle Rae, Haileybury’s Head of Visual Arts, has seen many students with strong academic backgrounds deepen and expand their creative thinking skills through studying subjects such as Visual Communication Design, Studio Arts and Media.

“Students need to learn to think expansively, to empathise, to take into account a broader context and to learn from different points of view. The ability to think outside the box and to recognise a need or challenge and have the creativity to work through that is important in leadership within any industry,” says Rachelle.

“To be an effective leader in any area you need to be able to ideate and come up with ways of finding solutions and opportunities. To be an effective leader, you can’t imitate what has gone before – it has to come from within”

The Performing Arts also offer many opportunities for students to unleash levels of creativity they may otherwise never realise they are capable of. Music, Theatre Studies, Dance and Drama build skills such as communication, collaboration, self-discipline, resilience and confidence that support a creative mindset.

Dr Grigbsy is an accomplished music scholar who, in the past, has held positions as Director of Music at private schools in New Zealand, China and the UK. Now taking a leading role at Haileybury’s Senior School, he is an advocate for schools to recognise and encourage creative avenues for young leaders of the future.

His perspective aligns closely with IBM global research involving CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders who also nominate creativity as the most important leadership quality. The Capitalizing on Complexity Global Chief Executive Officer Study found ‘creativity trumps other leadership characteristics.’

The significance of creativity for future leaders cannot be overstated and here’s why it’s critical to their success:
  • Creativity drives innovation: In an era of rapid technological advancements and disruption, leaders must harness their creative abilities to drive innovation. Creative thinkers envision new possibilities, challenge the status quo and generate groundbreaking ideas that lead to transformative solutions.
  • Creativity solves problems: The complexities of the future require leaders to tackle multifaceted problems using unconventional approaches. Creativity enables those leaders to think outside the box, connected seemingly unrelated concepts and devise innovative strategies to overcome obstacles.
  • Creativity adapts to change: Change is inevitable and the pace of change is accelerating. Creative leaders adapt quickly, embrace new paradigms and navigate uncertainty with confidence and agility. They can transform challenges into opportunities, continuously learn and evolve, and inspire their teams to welcome change.
  • Creativity breeds collaboration and communication: Creativity fosters effective collaboration and communication. Leaders who think creatively can inspire diverse teams, facilitate open dialogue and encourage the sharing of ideas. They create an inclusive environment that nurtures innovation and empowers individuals to bring their unique perspectives to the table.
  • Creativity delivers visionary leadership: Creativity enables leaders to envision a future that others cannot see yet. They anticipate trends, identify emerging opportunities and formulate a compelling vision that inspires and motivates the people around them. They competently and confidently chart a course for success in a fast-evolving world.

Creativity is an indispensable attribute for any future leader. Schools have a major role to play in ensuring children and young people are presented with opportunities where they can experiment, explore and expand their creative mindset. Our future leaders must be encouraged to innovate, solve complex problems, adapt and disrupt, foster collaboration and envision the future.

As we shape tomorrow’s world, it is crucial that we cultivate and nurture creativity in young people so they are ready to lead and to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.