12 essential character traits for creativity – what are your strengths?

Ever wondered if you’re a creative person, compared to others?  That’s the wrong question. 

The question is not whether you are creative, but how.  In what way do you have ideas? How do you experience them and interpret them?

Whatever our personal skills and working style, we are all problem-solvers.  Maybe you just need the right set of circumstances, or the right colleagues around you, but you can be certain that you can contribute something to the innovation game.

This isn’t just a fluffy feel-good notion.  It’s based on years of world-class research by Dr Mark Batey at Manchester Business School, a leading expert in the psychology of creativity & innovation.

I blogged recently (The Innovation Culture Clash) highlighting two different ways of thinking: the divergent, expansive thinking that helps ideas to develop, and the convergent, narrowing-down thinking that efficiently delivers them to a market.  The key point is that both are essential for any organisation to be successfully innovative.  And that means that a range of very different character traits and working styles are important for innovation to flourish.

In line with this, Mark has used his world-class research to develop a new model of 12 major character traits – each of them a vital contribution to the various stages of creativity and innovation. 

Grouping these into four major categories, they are:

Idea Generation:

Fluency – how well the ideas just keep on coming

Originality – how different or surprising your ideas are

Incubation – how much you mull things over, letting ideas develop, connect and improve

Illumination – having sudden breakthrough moments (Eureka!)


Curiosity – how you try to understand the world around you and how to improve it

Ambiguity – how comfortable you are with uncertainty, or trying something new without knowing the answers in advance


Intrinsic – how much you’re motivated by your own personal interest in doing something

Extrinsic – how much you’re motivated by challenges or targets set by others


Producing – how confident you feel about being creative (not whether you really are creative, but how you feel about having a go)

Sharing – how willing you are to be candid and share ideas, even when you know they’re still only half-baked

Implementing – how confident you feel about applying your ideas: remember, innovation isn’t just about having a creative idea, the idea also needs to be put into practice/into market.


So did you recognise yourself anywhere in that list?  None of us are going to score high on all of them – but as any good leader or entrepreneur will tell you, they want a well-rounded team that collectively has all the necessary attributes, rather than a bunch of well-rounded (average?) individuals.  

Based on all this, Mark and his business colleagues at E-METRIXX have developed the me2 psychometric test, a 15-minute online questionnaire that will assess your personal strengths in each characteristic.  If you’re interested, get in touch with me for more info – I found this test so useful that I’m now a licensed provider.  The reports are detailed, jargon-free, and full of useful suggestions for personal development.

Like a lot of psychometric testing, it’s great for helping you understand yourself and others, and it’s a fun and effective team-building exercise.  It’s also very useful for thinking about the type of person you need to recruit next, to fill any current skills gaps in the team.

My own strengths included things like fluency, incubation, ambiguity, sharing and implementing.  What do you think yours would be – and what might be missing from your team?

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