A recent group of studies by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University finds a link between creativity and unethical behavior. The researchers found that creative personalities tend to cheat more than non-creatives.
But the link between creativity and unethical behavior can be reduced, Lynne Vincent, a professor of management at Syracuse University, and Maryam Kouchaki, a professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University, write in Harvard Business Review. The first step is to stop exalting creativity.
"The idea that creativity is rare leads to a sense of entitlement; if you are creative, you see yourself as more deserving than others," Vincent and Kouchaki write. "Leaders reinforce this when they don't hold creative people to the same rules as those who are less creative."
In one study, Vincent and Kouchaki found that participants who were told that creativity is rare were more than twice as likely to lie to their partners than participants who were told creativity is common.
To avoid entitled, dishonest employees, the duo says you should define what creativity is to your company."While creativity involves a certain degree of risk-taking, managers should make clear that taking risks does not mean ignoring the rules and moral guidelines," they write.
You also should make your employees aware that creativity is a skill that can be learned and sharpened. "Thinking creatively can be a discipline and an ordinary everyday behavior. It is not reserved for a creative elite." Vincent and Kouchaki write.
One other suggestions: Make sure your employees know that your company as a whole is creative, not just a few core employees. "Focusing on a culture of creativity rather than individual creative identities can spark creativity without inadvertently signaling that dishonesty is acceptable," the authors write.