All posts by Jen Spencer

6 Questions To Help You Troubleshoot Team Issues

With the fast pace and client-centric focus in creative environments, it can be hard to pause for a second to check in on how your team is working. Before you realize it, dynamics take root that can damage your productivity and your entire work culture.

When you know that something needs to change on your team, but you can’t quite pinpoint the problem, ask yourself these questions to help identify your issues and set a course of action.

1. Does Everyone Know the End Game?
If you don’t know where you are headed strategically, it’ll be difficult to get there. And if you know where you are headed but your team doesn’t, they can’t help you get there. Know your vision and communicate it so that everyone is working from the same blueprint.

2. Is Team Development Happening Regularly?
Your annual offsite, team gatherings, and performance reviews are great things to do. But most people need more frequent efforts to keep them engaged. Spending time with your team can take extra hours, but it should pay off in productivity down the line.

3. Are You Focusing on Individuals Over the Team?
Take the individuals out of the conversation a bit. It can help people see more objectively. Instead, focus on the culture and work processes of your team system:

Culture – Does the team have trust, respect, creativity, and diversity in values and insights.

Processes – Process creates culture. How do your processes influence your culture — both positively and negatively? Do you have accountability, clarity in vision, clear decision-making, resources, and leadership?

Need more insights? My favorite tool for uncovering what’s working and what’s not within a team is the Team Diagnostic Assessment.

4. Do Leaders Understand Their Impact?
There are incredible tools out there to help executives increase their self-awareness:

  • Insights Discovery – Understand your style, strengths, energy, and the value you bring to your team.
  • Social Styles – Understand your preferences in how you think, act, and make decisions.
  • Business Chemistry – Identify your own behavior pattern and how you interact with others who fit different patterns.
  • Leadership Circle Profile – Identify your habitual thoughts and behaviors and how they impact your leadership effectiveness.

And remember: It’s not the tool that matters but what you DO with it.

5. Could the Team Use Some Experiential Learning?
Yes, we’re talking about things like the stereotypical ropes course. You may be rolling your eyes, but hear us out: There is nothing like being scared shitless to let your humanity come out.

Experiential learning shows a lot about how you and your team cope in high-stress team environments. You get insights about your styles, habits, and behaviors.

You don’t have to do a ropes course. We’re fans of this equine experience. We’ve had clients set up mini-Iron Chef competitions. You can even weld and build stuff together.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to debrief afterward! Otherwise, you miss some rich insights that might be hard to recall later.

6. Does Your Team Trust You to Be Consistent?
Your team needs to know that you will do what you say. If you set up a monthly call with one of your VPs in another city to talk about their wins, challenges, etc., don’t let that meeting fall off the calendar because you have a conflict. Move it.

Interested in having someone come in and help you make your executives and teams stronger, productive, and valuable? We’d love to help you design the engagement that will get you where you want to go.

4 Questions to Grow a Dynamic Culture

When was the last time you wanted to stay in a job where you weren’t being challenged or using your talents? Where you knew exactly what to expect every day? Where there were no surprises and you knew you would have the same role in five or 10 years that you have today?

That might work for some people. But it doesn’t work for Creative Executives.  Continue reading

10 Things to Think About Before You Get Work-Married

I was recently asked for insights on what people should think about before becoming business partners.

Partnership is marriage. Period. When it’s great, it’s great, and when it’s challenging…you have to dig in. Partnership is being legally entwined with someone else (or multiple people), for better or worse. Continue reading

What do curiosity and truth have to do with money?

As it turns out, everything. I recently sat down with Jasmine Holan of Veriditas Money Management to chat about her philosophies around wealth and the creative professional.

Jasmine Holan, Veriditas Money Management for The Creative Executive

My husband and I found out about Jasmine and sought her out as a way to help us save for having a baby. If you’re self-employed, two months off with baby = need for savings! While Jasmine is not a financial planner or CPA, she anchors everything she does in numbers. Within the first six months of working with her, Continue reading

Is your new boss messing with your mojo?


I’ve had several clients this past year that have had new bosses enter the picture – sometimes at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. One even had this happen within just weeks of joining a new company!

A new leader can bring about excitement, fear, and a whole lot of uncertainty.

For some, uncertainty is invigorating and for others, it’s a fear trigger.
We want to make sure that fear around uncertainty doesn’t get in the way of you and your potential.

Continue reading

Free New Year’s Giveaways!

Did we get your attention?

We believe that great Creative Executives are fantastic leaders and even better learners. Get a leg-up at the beginning of the year and discover some new things about yourself with some of our favorite free tools.

May these resources keep you inspired, aware, and on a productive, creative path.
Enjoy!  Continue reading

Did You Build This Ship to Wreck?

Florence and the Machine inspired our post this month. For us, this song encapsulates what the New Year symbolizes – a time to plan, set intentions, chart a course, and set sail! Moreover, like any effort that requires planning and forethought, you don’t want to sabotage the delicate balance by taking on too much or failing to map your journey. Here are simple things you can do this month to keep your ship sailing in smooth waters all year long.

The Creative Executive. Stay connected to your vision in 2016. Continue reading

What I Learned From Our C/E Immersion Weekend

As I was wrapping up our Creative Executive Immersion experience, I found myself at a loss for words. I was having a really hard time articulating my thoughts to the group because I was so blown away by their courage.

In the coaching world, the word courage gets thrown around like Snickers on Halloween, so it can often sound trite or superficial. But talking about courage and actually experiencing it are two very different things. During the Immersion weekend, I was witness to the depth and meaning of the word.

Continue reading

A Creative Comeback After Cancer

Nick Ross Photo

Six years in remission from having cancer in my mid-twenties, I was bellied up to a downtown Los Angeles bar, lamenting the fickle and unforgiving industry I chose. It was January of 2014, and I was a cliche – a down-on-his-luck actor claiming creative relevance in LA with little more than a regional insurance commercial and a couple viral videos to my credit. And I was floating further and further away from the safe, sandy, care-free beaches of my twenties and into the deep sea of expectation that is life in your thirties. Do I hang it all up and shift focus away from the unstable pursuit of creativity or do I keep showing up to auditions with my head held high? Continue reading

Grit in the Face of Adversity

Franklin Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney…history is full of stories of wildly successful people who have overcome incredible odds. This is not to say that FDR succeeded because he contracted polio at 39; FDR succeeded despite his disease. Surviving and thriving after a truly time-stopping, universe-questioning trauma often comes down to grit. We all have trauma and tragedy. Grit is what takes us from merely white-knuckling and surviving the pain to actually thriving.

What is grit? Continue reading

What Really Makes You Valuable

Last week I had the honor of opening the Worldwide Partners’ North America Annual Meeting with a talk about The Humanity of Creativity.

Much of the talk centers around the four pillars of human relationships within your business that either motivates or hampers the way to creating great work and getting great results – Self, Clients, Talent, and Partnerships.

We also heard from Continue reading

The Four Facets of Effective Creative Leadership

Four Facets of Effective Creative Leadership | The Creative Executive

Leadership can make or break creative teams. It can make all the difference in how you and your team experience the day-to-day, weather tough times, and succeed in actualizing your mission and vision. There’s vulnerability, inherent chaos, and unchartered waters in pushing creative boundaries bird and it takes a nuanced leader to manage well. While there are many great articles about leadership, I’ve condensed it into what I think are the top four facets to effectively managing creative teams. Continue reading

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