i’ve learned in my long tenure in the creative field how important it is to not only lead the charge as a creative director, but also work side by side with other designers at any level. it’s important to me to never think of myself higher than i am, even if i’m working with entry-level designers. at one point in the past i was like them – new to the field, trying to not only learn a variety of graphic design software, but also learning the structure and identity of the organization that employed me. my first director was extremely patient and a good teacher, the epitome of a great “leader.” rather than him micro-managing every project given to me, he would turn me loose and only hover over my shoulder when i requested guidance. the greater lesson i learned from his leadership is when he and i would work on a project together as a team and not simply as boss/employee. this type of workmanship also taught me how to work with others in non-creative areas of the company and allowed me to chance to explain in detail, with humility, how the work is to be done. i made sure they understood that i was their teammate with a different skill as we were working toward the same goal for the organization.
once i became a director, i would then by default lead other designers in the same way my first director did – no micromanaging, show them how to use specific software tools (mainly when they asked), and always work toward collaborative creativity! this also means as a leader i would not take full credit on team effort. that’s what leaders do. no football player wins a championship alone. a quarterback is nothing without his offensive line, running backs, and receivers.
i’m extremely thankful to have learned this. there are many who haven’t and cause a great deal of stress on their staff. they are the “bosses” who give orders and often make unrealistic demands without caring about the many hours and lack of sleep their workers endure just to get things done. in many cases this can also cause the staff to attack each other, creating ongoing dissension. bosses aren’t concerned with the mental and physical well-being of their employees. they simply delegate and expect the outcome with no exceptions.
in short, bosses make demands and expect the outcome without question. leaders lead by example, as members of their team, and get more than they asked for. which one are you?