Business, nonprofit, and religious organizations are all filled with people who are terrible at leading creative people. In some cases, they were promoted to the position and understand they are out of their depth. But in most cases (in my experience) they actually believe they’re good at leading creative people, when in truth, they are completely out of place. Based on working with more than a few horrible creative leaders over the last few decades, here’s my checklist of 10 Reasons You’re Not Ready to Lead A Creative Team:
1) You simply don’t like creative types. You think they’re not serious, undisciplined, or just weird.
2) You don’t understand why they prefer to work late at night or early in the morning. You think they should just show up like everybody else and be done with it.
3) You’re not willing to defend their work to the people you report to.
4) You think creative people don’t have a mind for business so they won’t understand the bigger picture or strategy.
5) Controlling the creative team is very important to you.
6) You like to micromanage their work.
7) You think creative people are flakey and undependable.
8) You think creative people have gigantic egos.
9) You think creative people only care about how “cool” an idea or project happens to be.
10) You like to take credit for their work.
If you suffer from any of these tendencies, then it may be time to rethink your position. Because if you don’t understand how creative people think, what they value, and why you need to defend their work, then you’re really not ready to lead creative teams.