Creative Teams: How to Lead and Manage Them


Leading and managing a team is difficult enough. However, leading creative teams is more challenging as you have to maintain the delicate balance of inspiration, creativity, and productivity.  When leading creative teams you have to exhibit more emotional intelligence to handle all of your team members. Here are a few tips that will help you in leading and managing creative teams.

Know the Basic Principles of Your Team’s Creative Process                                                       

Not knowing the basic principles of the different creative process will prevent you from guiding your team in the right direction. For example, if you are managing a team ( of graphic designers, you need to be aware of basic design principles such as color blocking, alignment, contrast, repetition, proximity, and others.

When you are knowledgeable it will easy for you to articulate the client’s vision and expectations to the team members. This will save a lot of working hours that would be otherwise spent on rework. This will enhance the productivity of your team.

Having knowledge of basic principles of the creative process will enhance your leadership competence and build a positive perception of your leadership amongst team members. However, it is necessary you don’t micro-manage the project or limit the potential activity of creative individuals in your team.

Don’t Act like a Boss

There is an old saying “Don’t be a Boss, be a Leader”. This fits perfectly with a team of creative professionals. Creative people are independent-minded and don’t like being told what to do. When managing creative teams, you need to ensure your actions do not hinder their creative thinking or ability in any way.

After you assemble a creative team, the best thing you can do is to get out of their way. This does not mean abandoning your team. You need to be always present with them to guide when needed, to provide honest feedback and listen to their concerns.

A good team manager will remove all obstructions from the team’s path and ensure they are able to become creative without any distraction.

Help your team to grow by offering opportunities to learn and learn new things from their failure that will make them perform better.

Encourage Your Team

A little encouragement goes a long way in inspiring creative individuals. Creative ideologies differ with every individual and thing that appears as a masterpiece to you might be ordinary for another person. A large amount of creative work is so much subjective that it is difficult to critically review and it can be only a matter of opinion.

When providing feedback, be honest about what is good and what needs to be reworked. However, take the time to appreciate the hard work that has been put in by the team. Constructive criticism works well when leading creating teams. You have to balance your words and encourage your team to put in more efforts if the project is not going in the right direction.

Give Them Breaks

People love to do a good job at their work and creative people are no different. Creative work can be mentally tiring at times and breaks become essential to wipe out the monotony and refresh the mind. Encourage your team members to take breaks when needed to keep the creative juices flowing.

Beware of each team member’s bandwidth and suggest to him or her to take a break if you feel they are exhausted or mentally tired. Suggest they go away from their computer monitor during breaks. Always give them a few minutes to relax, recoup and refresh their mind.

Communicate Clearly

Good and clear communication can help you keep misunderstandings at bay. It also ensures you and team are on the same page while working on the project. Keep your client well informed about the work progress and engage your team when finalizing milestones and deliverables.

If company rules permit, engage the team in early planning including risk planning. When you communicate and engage your team members more often, they develop a sense of ownership towards the project. This increases their commitment, motivation and they are encouraged to give their best to the project and make it a success.

The tips provided should make the task of managing creative teams relatively easy for you. Remember, unexpected hurdles can stall or slow the progress of a project. However with support from your team and by nurturing creativity with the tips shared, you will be able to run the project smoothly.

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