Creative leaders need to overcome some obstacles that are different from those you would find on other teams. Stephen reviews the five most common leadership obstacles for creatives, and what you need to know to overcome each of them.
- [Instructor] Let's start to dig a little bit deeper about what are some of the things that you need to think about as you really start to work on your leadership for creative teams. And one of the most important things, one of the most foundational things, is just to understand, well, what are going to be some of the most common obstacles that you're going to find? Because I think that there really are a set of things, a set of very specific challenges that you will find in creative people and you need to understand what they are, you need to be able to spot them and see them for what they are so that you can then start to plan and work around them because that's the thing is that if we really going to focus on the way your team thinks, that these fears are a very, very key part of that.
So, when we think about what are the most common challenges, I found that it boils down to really just five. Now, the first one of those is going to be perspective and perspective is going to be true for you as a leader and it's also going to be true for everybody on your team because, as you as a leader, as you're trying to be the insider and the outsider, the person that is a part of the process but then also the person who has the longer term vision, well, you're going to need this perspective for your team as well because in many cases, they're going to be heads down, they're going to be working, they're going to be working on their particular career and their particular project.
So, how can you make sure that they see the bigger perspective, the bigger vision? And that there aren't blind spots, there aren't these places where they can't really get an understanding of what are the things that they need to work on but it's also true for you. How can you make sure that you're getting the perspective of what are you doing right and what are you doing wrong? What are some of the things that you need to work on? Because this is the problem. No matter how hard you try and no matter what you do, each person will be their individual biggest blind spot. The next challenge is going to be progress because, in a lot of cases, people want to make things better but the challenge is they also want to feel like they're actually getting something done and this is why, when it comes to progress, you'll see so often that big problems, they just don't get solved because the smaller ones can actually get done, they can get accomplished, and so you have these big problems that sit out there.
I'll often joke and say that it's a stack of pink elephants sitting in the room, everybody knows about them, everybody acknowledges them, but we just sit around feeding them peanuts, like, that's just the way that it is. So, how, as a leader, do you get in there? How do you recognize that there's a big problem here but also make sure that we're actually doing something to solve it? That the excuse of well, that's just the way it's always been isn't an accepted excuse anymore, that we're actually going to go through remanente substantive change because it is very easy to just get caught up in all the small problems, all the little things while, the big things, the important things, the big blockers, those go unsolved.
Now, that then leads us into some of the more personal emotions, some of the more personal problems, the first of which is fear and fear can come in a lot of different places and one of the things is that one, people are afraid of change, doing things differently. Well, that makes us uncomfortable and in a lot of cases it makes us afraid, we don't necessarily change. You don't like when you get a new boss and it's scary to go to a new company. And especially inside of creative teams, this can become a huge, huge challenge because your clients evolve, your problems evolve, society, the company, everything is evolving, so you can't become too precious, you can't become too comfortable with what it is that you've done before.
You have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and so you have to deal with, you have to coach the team past fear. But the other thing that you're going to find is that you also have to get people over the fear of speaking up 'cause here again Carnegie Mellon had that study where they looked at a group of 10 people and found out that if those people were really being honest, 85% of them, so eight and a half of them, we'll figure out later how we get to half a person, but eight and a half people are afraid of actually telling the truth at work.
They're afraid because of repercussions, because of the way people are going to think, afraid that it's just going to be something that is going to be bad for them. So as the leader, you need to think about that and you need to be aware of that that if over eight out of 10 people are not genuinely going to tell you the truth about what's going on, how do you find that way of really seeing through that? How do you get them comfortable with being honest? Even brutally honest. Because so much of creativity, it is subjective, it is debatable, but we need to be honest, we need to be open with those things and find a way of overcoming fear.
Now the thing that can be even more powerful than fear, more challenging than fear, is futility. And futility is really the place where people think that nothing's going to change and this is a big problem whenever you come in, you want to start leading a new team, maybe you've decided, you've listened to this course and you said, you know what, look, I'm going to go back, I'm going to rededicate myself, I'm going to become a better leader, and you're now going to have a team that's going to look at you and say well, why is anything going to be different this time? I know this person, I've heard other people come in, they've talked about how things are going to be different, why is it going to be different this time? I'm going to sit on the sideline, I'm going to wait, I'm going to really not necessarily buy into this.
And futility can really be something that can be problematic, it can really spread through the group. And so, when you see people who are bought into this futility, you have to find ways of bringing them in, you have to find ways of engaging them so that the sense of futility, it doesn't continue, it isn't given room to just sit around and fester and grow. And so that last one's going to be comfort. And comfort really comes in two different ways. The first is that, as an individual person, I've seen so many great creative people, great creative talent, who pass on incredible opportunities because, for them, they would rather stay where they were, they would rather stay with what they knew, with what was comfortable then go and do something that might scare them a little bit.
As a creative leader, comfort also can create a huge problem because what you don't want to do is you don't want to put in all this work, you don't want to find success, you don't want to get the recognition that you deserve and then get afraid, and then get comfortable with the way that you do things, with your process, with your approach, and just keep doing that time and time again because its success is going to face over time, you're going to need to constantly treat leadership, constantly treat your team as a living thing, it needs to be looked at, it needs to be evaluated, and if you get too comfortable, if you get too blinded by what it is you're going to do, that greatness, the thing that you've achieved, well, then, you're going to lose it, it's going to slip away.
And so comfort really is something that is just part of our human nature. We like to understand it, we like to know that we are doing something that we've done before but in our industry and especially with creative teams, we have to fight to evolve, we have to fight to reinvent, to come up with something that is going to be newer and better and stronger. And so what I want you to do is just to understand these common obstacles, understand that these are going to be out there, identify them whenever you see them, but don't be afraid of them.
Just simply identify them so that you can say I understand what this is and I have a plan and I have a way that I can overcome them, that these are going to be some of the most common things that you're going to do but that it's something you can get around, you can get these people bought in, you can get them past these things, you can embrace them, and this is the part where leadership comes in, where you can lead them through it and they will become stronger and better for it.
- Assessing leadership readiness
- Leadership obstacles
- The creative process
- Leading creativity using the 10/80/10 rule
- Becoming a better leader
- Trust, commitment, and knowledge
- Defining your team's process
- Speaking business
- Creating a focused and empowered team
- Coaching leadership and creativity
- Embracing failure