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 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.
Respect the Process
As creative executives, we sometimes assume that process means imposing a structure around that messy, yet beautiful, act of creation. But total chaos can yield products without customers and leave a wake of frustrated team members trailing behind. I’m not talking about a strict step-by-step here, by process, I simply mean “culture.” And culture just really just comes down to how you do the work. As a leader, you build your creative culture one-step of your work process at a time – providing structure through a strong vision, setting and sharing goals, checking in, making people feel heard, and celebrating milestones.
Balance Strengths + Gaps
Do you know what gives your team a creative edge? It comes down to deeply understanding your and team members’ strengths and finding ways to wield them. Your team members will love you for it because it sets them up to shine in big ways.
On the flip side, you must also mind your gaps. As a leader, you must understand the gaps in yourself, in your individual team members, and in your team as a whole. Then you must find ways to fill those gaps. The fact is, we all have gaps. The important thing is how we understand and work with them.
Do you know what your people care about? To manage through inspiration, you must appeal to what makes each team member tick. Who’s motivated by collaboration? By autonomy? Who loves to organize, and who wants to improvise?
When it comes to leadership, inspiration beats an iron fist every time. Bullying, yelling, and other negative enforcement might get you a short-term result, but managing your team this way will never create the passionate engagement you need for the long haul.
Take People on a Journey
No matter how seasoned or confident we are as creative leaders, being able to pitch is paramount. You must sell a compelling vision to your team, and when the work is complete you must sell that vision to stakeholders or clients. As Peter Cougher says in his brilliant book, The Art of the Pitch, “Bring the same level of creativity to selling the work as you brought to creating the work.”
Being able to confidently pitch, persuade, entertain and/or move an audience is not something most people are born with. It’s a muscle we have to train and exercise. There are a great many resources and role models when it comes to the art of the pitch. Here are a few of my favorites.
Ready to put this into action with your teams? We’re here to help you catalyze your leadership potential.