As a creative director you wear numerous hats - people manager, creative genius, inspiring leader and product delivery guy or gal, to name a few.
You provide team leadership that motivates and portrays the mission, vision and values of the business, and you are in charge of steering your team towards imagining, designing, creating, illustrating, writing and editing the best creative out there.
But during the creative process, it's easy to let some bad practices hamper your efficiency and affect your campaigns. If any of the below sound familiar to you, it could be time to shape up.
- You don't give equal opportunities to people
Think back to your days as a working creative. Chances are your creative director at the time had a bit of a clique who spent time together both in and out of the office. They probably also got the pick of the biggest and best tasks and got favoured for certain jobs, which doesn't feel good for anyone left out of the huddle.
Now that you are a creative director, the top projects shouldn’t be destined for your inner circle only. Of course you might have some star designers who you know will produce the work you need to fastest and the best, but your job is about teaching people as much as it is about leading the creative process. Connect the whole team with a project and recognise individual talent.
Over time, your staff will feel valued, get better and expand beyond their comfort zones, which inevitably leads to them producing top quality work.
- You don't listen to constructive criticism
When people are ignored after contributing their opinions and thoughts on a topic, they aren't likely to contribute again. Having a team of people who won't speak their minds is like having a one-way ticket to disaster town. Thankfully, you can change the course of this path by actively listening and responding when co-workers or staff offer their opinion. But in order for this to happen, you have to ask.
As creative director, you should constantly be seeking constructive feedback from those on the team. If you simply promote your own opinion and look down on others' ideas, you'll drive away the people you need the most.
- You don't help your team manage overtime
In many circumstances - particularly in Asia - employees who regularly work overtime aren't producing quality work. They stay behind because it's often expected of them in traditional workplaces, but instead of working they will be browsing the Internet or doing personal affairs. It's the plague of 'presenteeism' and it's hugely affecting staff productivity across the region.
In agencies or brands, it is imperative that this is managed. Of course staying late is going to be necessary relatively frequently - and your staff know that - but it's your job to make sure the team is well-rested enough to come back tomorrow to keep producing quality work. You can't afford the unwarranted operational costs and interruptions that an unbalance work-life scenario brings to the table, so make sure you address any and all issues of overtime before it gets out of control.
- Creative stress makes you procrastinate
Procrastination is your biggest enemy. Unfortunately, as creative people we know that you can sometimes hit a roadblock during your process, which might cause you to postpone your efforts. As a creative director, this can be a major cause of your creative stress and an impediment to your success as a team leader.
To deal with it, first admit the problem exists. Most of the tasks you postpone are not difficult, but the longer you put them off, the harder they become. Break down a complex project into small tasks, and begin to tackle it piece by piece. Deal with the hard tasks when your focus and energy are at their peak. This will give you confidence to slay the baby dragons later.
- You think the Mad Man era was over too quickly
TV shows are not a reflection of real life, but sadly there are creative leaders out there who like to emulate what they see on the silver screen. Taking your management cues from an era that was known for three-martini lunches and casual sexism is not conducive to a healthy modern workplace, and you'll quickly find yourself, your team and your projects falling apart.
If any of these unhealthy practices sound even remotely familiar, they require your urgent attention. Being a creative director is as much about being creative as it is about being a leader, so make sure you bring as much balance as you can to both sides of the equation.
The writer is Priya Bala, regional director of font.
(Photo courtesy: Shutterstock)