More than ever, today’s companies are a rich mix of people from different cultures, experiences and skillsets. As a senior creative you will be asked to sit shoulder to shoulder with marketing, sales, business development, HR and Finance. You will need to understand and contribute to business decisions and to be confident in your value and position.
But how do you work with other people’s perceptions of creatives (“the visionaries unable to read a balance sheet”) as well as your own perception of your role as a creative?
The first step is in understanding your own values, beliefs and behaviours. What do you perceive as your strengths and limitations, how have your values led you to where you are today, and how can they be used as a positive and influencing factor at work?
The second is to create a path to improving business relations, understanding how to resolve differences, develop understanding of other view point and build strong relationships. Being able to influence business decision making, by using your unique skills, involves a shift towards a ‘growth’ mind-set which will enable you to fill the gaps in your knowledge and accelerate at a pace.
The art of managing up and down.
It can feel like you need a degree in psychology or diplomatic relations to give feedback both up and down, often stuck between the client and the creative perspective. But in creativity, most things are subjective, giving feedback is an art and not a science, critiquing in a way that maintains a sense of artistic autonomy and motivation is a skill. This must be coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the team, knowing what matters to them and consistently raising their awareness levels.
As a senior creative you will need to make time to reflect on how to create a motivating environment – one where creativity can thrive, which may be at odds with the culture you find yourself in. Typically, this requires thoughts on how to remove obstacles – bureaucracy, policies and procedures that undermine creative freedom.
You will have to define and petition for unique training and development needs as well as create metrics to monitor progress which might be highly individual and subjective. You will also need to reflect on how to reward, recognise and balance this with a culture of equality and fairness.
Coaching can also help with your approach to tough conversations, either with team members or stakeholders, enabling you to maintain focus on your intentions and delivering the best outcome.
You will also need to work on your own resilience, energy and motivation levels, leveraging the passion that bought you here as well as the balance required to give so much of yourself to the teams around you.
How to develop your leadership skills.
It takes time to find your place and start taking a strategic rather than situational or technical views. Coaching can help you to build confidence and understand your role by asking what expectations others have of you as a senior leader and what expectations you have of yourself and the team? By looking at your qualities and skills gaps, you can take a systematic and personalised approach to building short and medium term goals.
Being coached will help you develop a reflective and open style that you can then go on to help your team develop their goals as well as creating an open space for creativity within your organisation.
As a senior creative professional, you will come across many challenges that are unique to leading a creative team in an organisation. Having worked closely with creatives, as a Director of Production, Consultant, Coach and Wife! I have developed a coaching programme uniquely aimed at senior creative professionals. For more information please contact me at ashaamster.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.