1) Understand the Language of Your Team’s Creative Process
Creative collaboration has its own language. Misunderstandings due to language can disrupt team’s creative flow and process. Creative leadership has less to do with your own creativity. It is more about your team’s creativity.
Knowing the language of your team’s creative process will reinforce your leadership competence. A manager who can articulate the client’s vision to his creative team in the right way will save the team from many hours of rework.
2) Know the Basic Principles of Creative Work
If you are leading a team of graphic designers you need to be knowledgeable about the basic design principles such as alignment, proximity, contrast, and repetition. You don’t have to be a creative genius to lead a creative team. You need to understand the basic principles of creative work so that you can facilitate it.
3) Don’t Be Bossy
People don’t like to be told what to do or bossed around and that is doubly true for creative people. Creative teams are different than traditional teams and hence the role of the leader is different than a traditional one. There is common viewpoint expressed by experts. One doesn’t manage creativity but manages for creativity.
Leaders need to avoid the trap of the “lone inventor myth” and understand creative people just don’t do things because someone told them to do it. You need to act like a coach giving suggestions ( VitaminTalent/What-We-Do ), appreciating inputs from a team member that will help the team get over the creative challenge.
4) Trust Your People
Micro-managers cannot lead a creative team in the right way. Micromanaging things only imply that you don’t trust your team even to make simple decisions. Such behavior bogs down creativity and your team is trapped in trivial details that do no good.
When managing creative teams, you need to trust people. Give them clear goals and tools needed for creativity and let them find their own ways to achieve their goals.
5) Embrace Failure
Mistakes are a part of learning process. If people don’t fail time to time, they will never create great things. You should give your team full autonomy in their way of working. Even if you don’t agree or believe in their approach, don’t interfere. You may be surprised sometimes their approach works better than you expected. If it didn’t work, let them understand what went wrong and try again in a different way.
6) Assessment and Feedback
Unlike the traditional feedback, the leader of the creative team should not rely solely on his/her observations but also consider additional perspectives. You need to keep the assessments qualitative. Use tools for anonymous feedback that will help the creative team get the whole picture. Always remember feedback is a critical component so opinions of other team members matter. It will only help in fostering the creative process.
If you want your creative team to be innovative, you should not only provide the team with right opportunities but also provide access to finite skills to be able to do so. When you combine these strategies while managing creative teams, you make creativity part of your work culture.
How do you assess and manage your creative team? Feel free to comment.