Gifted Individuals Make a Significant Contribution to Innovation in Organizations

With their creative talents, gifted individuals can make a useful contribution to innovations within organizations. Highly gifted individuals possess many more creative possibilities than the average gifted person.

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To make use of their innovative ideas and to implement them, however, an effective interaction between gifted individuals and their work environment is essential.

How do gifted individuals contribute to innovation?

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  • The gifted individual can easily identify the relationships between goals, missions, and assignments.
  • The gifted individual has the ability to focus intensely on the content.
  • Arguments based on content are key.
  • Habits, traditions and social pressure are quickly spotted. If these seem to be in conflict with the content, they are discarded as being irrelevant.
  • Thinking ‘outside of the box’ is second nature to them.
  • Switching between one’s own professional area and other disciplines is no problem at all.
  • The opinion of a formal authority does not weigh any heavier than the opinion of another party.
  • Information from others is checked against one’s own experience or against other information.
  • The gifted individual has a high degree of commitment and passion.
  • Existing protocols, structures and approaches are only followed if they seem to be effective and are well-founded.
  • A customized solution is sought for each individual situation, often when this has not been requested. ‘Standard problems’ are also approached in this way.

Favorable environmental factors required for making use of these contributions are listed below. The favorable characteristics listed correspond strongly with the ‘task culture’ and ‘person culture,’ while the unfavorable characteristics correspond with the ‘role culture’ or ‘power culture’ from “Harrison’s typologies of organizational culture.

Favorable and Unfavorable Organizational Characteristics for the Gifted

Favorable organizational characteristics:

  • Flexibility.
  • Little hierarchy.
  • Few procedures (only if they are useful).
  • The development and needs of employees are of importance.
  • Room for productive conflicts.
  • Power and influence can be acquired through expertise, dedication and success (or, at most, through personality, ability and outstanding performances).

Unfavorable organizational characteristics:

  • Procedures determine the work.
  • Power and influence are predominantly dependent upon your position.
  • The development and needs of the employee are of little importance.
  • Conflicts are often avoided.

How can giftedness be recognized?

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If an employee arrives at your consulting room, how do you recognize the above-mentioned characteristics of giftedness?

  • Wide interest in all kinds of fields (curious and passionate).
  • Sensitive to, such as, noise at work (highly sensitive).
  • Can speak passionately about a subject that interests him or her, starts speaking more quickly, the eyes light up, makes agitated gestures (passionate).
  • Quick analyses of the work situation: ‘that’s how it works’ (highly intelligent).
  • Focussed primarily on the content of the work (highly intelligent).
  • Wants to work in his/her own way (autonomous).
  • Wants to see a lot of variety in the work (creation-directed).
  • Produces unorthodox solutions that are not generally accepted (sparkling original).

Focus points for the problem analysis

  • Gifted individuals suffer relatively often from stress and burnout. Factors that can be of influence here are the nature of the work (sufficient challenge), the degree of autonomy and the defining of borders. Gifted employees are especially passionate and have the tendency to insufficiently specify their own limits.
  • Bullying, or other forms of aggression: because a gifted individual does not fit the requirements of the ‘average’ employee. As a result, fear/anxiety disorders may arise.
  • Depressive feelings often start at an early age. Gifted individuals can therefore more easily feel lonely and isolated.
  • Fear of failure as a result of setting the bar high and the tendency to perfectionism.
  • The gifted individual can come across as having ADHD. The combination of giftedness and ADHD is not uncommon.
  • Gifted individuals have a high sensitivity for odors and sounds.
  • They more quickly experience certain circumstances as being a hindrance.
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