There are a million books, websites, and conferences out there on how to be a great leader. But when it comes to leading creative people, things start to thin out a bit. When dealing with creative teams, some leaders feel the need to be experts in the area they lead, others are convinced that holding high standards is the secret, and still, others think organizational expertise is the key.
But when it comes to leading great creative teams, let me share a little advice from one of the best: Walt Disney. This quote ran in National Geographic in 1963 in a story called “The Magic Worlds of Walt Disney” –
“You know, I was stumped one day when a little boy asked, “Do you draw Mickey Mouse?” I had to admit I do not draw anymore. “Then you think up all the jokes and ideas?” “No,” I said. “I don’t do that.” Finally, he looked at me and said, “Mr. Disney, just what do you do?”
“Well,” I said, “sometimes I think of myself as a little bee. I go from one area of the studio to another and gather pollen and sort of stimulate everybody.” I guess that’s the job I do. I certainly don’t consider myself a businessman, and I never did believe I was worth anything as an artist.”
Your #1 job as a leader of creative people is to inspire. Never forget that. It’s not your job to design the logo, shoot the video, write the script, compose the music, or micromanage.
It’s your job to make everyone better at theirs.
Photo: Walt Disney shows Disneyland plans to Orange County officials, Dec. 1954
by Orange County Archives