A Publication of WTVP

What’s the most important leadership quality for success in business? According to a 2010 IBM study of more than 1,500 chief executive officers from around the world, it’s creativity.

“Coming out of the worst economic downturn in our professional lifetimes—and facing a new normal that is distinctly different—it is remarkable that CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise of the future,” said Frank Kern, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services, in a press release. “But step back and think about it, and this is entirely consistent with the other top finding in our study—that the biggest challenge facing enterprises from here on will be the accelerating complexity and velocity of a world that is operating as a massively interconnected system.”

These results were reinforced in multiple studies by The Conference Board, in which U.S. employers ranked creativity and innovation among the top five skills that will become increasingly more important in the coming years—and filling this need is among their top challenges. Further, business leaders identified “arts-related study in college” and “self-employed work” as the top two indicators of creativity.

Art. Entrepreneurship. Innovation. No wonder the popular “STEM” acronym—science, technology, engineering and math—has expanded to “STEAM” (with the addition of art), while a growing initiative is tacking on innovation and entrepreneurship to transform “STEAM” into “STEAMIE.” The point of this alphabet soup of acronyms? To better align our educational system with the skills employers really need in the 21st century.

Clearly, the arts are fundamental to our future—and the results are real. The creative economy is a $2.7 billion industry in this state alone, according to Arts Alliance Illinois, as well as a key driver of tourism. Here in Greater Peoria, according to the same study, $20.4 million in annual spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences supports 850 full-time-equivalent jobs, generates $18.6 million in local household income, and delivers $2.2 million in local and state government revenue.

When it comes to creative thinking, artists are a natural fit. If entrepreneurship and innovation are the desired outcomes, they are a key resource that too often goes underutilized. Just as we support local startup businesses, we should do the same for our local artists and their creative ventures. That’s the type of investment that can pay unknown dividends down the road. iBi