How to Lead Creative Teams

Creative team working round a laptop

Written Transcript/Summary – How to Lead Creative Teams

AYL Podcast #7 Summary

How to Lead Creative Teams

Welcome to Advance Your Leadership with Bev Benwick. This is Podcast # 7… How to Lead Creative Teams.

Frequently, I have the opportunity to work with a leader of creative teams. This is not always a smooth conversation as some leaders really struggle with inspiring the creative minds and wrestle with the creative personalities in the workplace.

I personally had this experience decades ago when I headed up a company that had several creative people, 3 of my 5 teams where exactly that. And….at that time in my career I was one of those ‘’no nonsense’’ leaders…you can imagine how popular I would have been with those who wished for a culture that promoted their creativity. Fortunately, I did observe what was going on and tried to alter my style somewhat at that time…although this wasn’t easy for me. Over the years I have grown to highly value the creative worker…..and that has been my motivation to lead differently in this regard.

Being creative naturally is a gift! Do our companies need creative departments….of course. Your industry will determine the need for the creative teams….but most companies that I work with have either a marketing team and a communication team. If given the size of your company, neither exists, than you likely have an individual in the role(s) or perhaps you outsource such activities. On the other hand….your company may employ a number of creative teams for product development as well.
Are the leaders of such teams, or you personally, leading in a way that promotes and inspires creativity…..or do you or others lead in a way that actually serves to minimize or stall creativity.

I would like to support your leadership with some thoughts about – being a better leader of creative teams:

  1. Exercising your coaching skills with this type of team will go a long way towards success with a creative team. Using a telling or coersive style of leadership falls flat with such a group. Making suggestions and asking for the thoughts of team member, or simply being far more inclusive than you may normally be can really payoff and bring about greater inspiration and contribution.
  2. Generally speaking, most creative people are visionary. If you are a leader who is rooted in tasks and details by your natural preference, you will need to think out of the box with regard to your leadership of a creative team. Leadership is not management, although you may certainly have some management activities to do in your day as well. But.leadership is the transformational piece, not the transactional piece. Vision must be articulated with excitement and clarity to your team. Who do you need to be to inspire, motivate and engage these people, not just the heads..but as well the hearts of these team members to bring about a high performing creative team.
  3. I find most people access their creativity when in a ‘’fun’’ or ‘’light environment. This is not always easy to fulfill in a busy work environment particularly if the overarching company culture is highly structured and stoic and/or reactive. If you have ever dealt or walked into the creative offices of an advertising firm you may well know what I am referring to here. Even look to the new corporate cultures in the technology sectors today. I am not saying that the company doesn’t have a serious nature towards its goals or objectives. What I am referring to is how they treat their creative teams. I ‘most often see an easing of the so called ‘’rules and regulations” in the culture for such teams. I see companies looking to offer agility and inclusion as a way to attract such creative talent. Hmmmmm…what does that tell you about the needs of creative people to do what they do best. What activities or different ways of doing work can you come up with to best inspire your creative group?
  4. Pretty much everyone has an expectation to grow and develop as they join
    a company…creative folks too! Leaders do have a responsibility to be the initiator of such for those that work for them. Creative people usually love to be challenged. Change up your game as a leader…..create a development or learning plan for each member of the team. What might that look like…here are a few of ideas:
    1. Let team members take turns at leading team meetings and preparing the content and agenda. You may wish to pair people up here to do so. Remember…you are still the leader and must use effective delegation to ensure this activity doesn’t fall off the wagon. If you have young team members….they need a lot of guidance…so to assure success….communicate/guide/ and create milestones that put the preparation in front of you to guarantee a productive and informative meeting. This is helping each member develop some leadership skills.
    2. Rotate different types of assignments. Let team members have some variety in what projects they work on. This will help develop further capacity in them….and is a bonus for you when something goes sideways or you have team member reduction for whatever reason.
    3. Develop presentations skills of everyone on the team. This may be presentation skills for internal or external use. As a leader….you again want to effectively delegate such a development activity. Lay out the plan, use guidance, discuss thoughts with those involved, and create milestones that allow for a check of quality and progress.
  5. Create an accepting culture on your creative team relative to idea creation and sharing of ideas and information. If you truly want people to be ‘’creative and out of the box’’ then you must foster an environment or team culture that promotes adventure and risk with regard to putting ideas forward. I find creative teams love to brainstorm…..without judgement. Actually this is true for many teams when they are asked to generate ideas with the exception of those teams who really do enjoy the debate, but debate seems to be specific to certain professional environments. So…..let your style and the environment create a ‘safe’ atmosphere to promote the creative activity that lets these teams flourish. Slapping down or readily negating ideas will only shut down contribution and productivity of creative individuals and teams.

I hope this has given you some ideas about bolstering up your own leadership qualities to bring something different to your creative team!

Thanks for joining me today!

To Better Leadership Always!

How to Lead Creative Teams

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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