There are some lessons we only learn the hard way.
One of those for me has to do with working with creatives.
I used to think when leading creatives, the key was to free them to create. I gave huge blank slates, allowed them to dream, and gave them very few parameters of what I was thinking.
I’ve learned – the hard way – freedom alone for a creative can spell disaster. Nothing gets accomplished and no one is happy.
Please understand. I’m not a basher of creatives.
I am actually a creative. Not the artistic creative type, but an idea creative. I have millions of ideas.
And, it’s true for me too. I used to think I wanted and needed to be led with no boundaries. Wrong. It’s not a good recipe for me.
I’ve learned the tips I’m about to share the hard way by attempting to lead creatives — and attempting to lead myself.
Creatives don’t need freedom – or at least freedom alone – they need more.
Here are 3 ways to help creatives flourish.
Give clear lines of direction.
Give them a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Help them see what a win looks like. Help them draw a box around certain end goals or objectives. The clearer you can be of what you are looking to do the more creative they can be.
Grant the freedom to draw within the lines.
Here’s the freedom creatives love. Once the end product is defined, creatives like limited micromanagement and maximum empowerment. They want the freedom to fail and the freedom to dream. All within the broad – very broad – but defined boundaries.
Provide accountability along the way.
Creatives need someone to check in with them periodically. They like to be motivated and encouraged. Let them know they are making progress – they are doing good work.
Without any lines or accountability creatives don’t flourish – they flounder. Things aren’t creative. They are messy.
Creatives love freedomm but it works best sandwiched between clarity and structure.
When those 3 are combined – lines, freedom and accountability – stuff gets done – and everyone is happy.
(Actually I should clarify – mostly everyone is happy. If everyone is happy someone’s not leading – creatives or otherwise.)