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Leading & Managing Creatives: The Importance of Making Decisions

I had a great meeting yesterday with Philip and Holly Wagner, pastors of Oasis Church in Los Angeles.  It’s a remarkable church here in the heart of the entertainment industry.  Philip and Holly have done what thousands of other pastors dream of – reaching the 20 and 30 year old community effectively.  In fact, they’ve always attracted young people, and today, the vast majority of their church members are in that group – with a significant number working in Hollywood.  The truth is, Philip and Holly have created an authentic culture where that age group feels comfortable.  As a result, their leadership team is mostly younger people as well.  We were discussing how to lead and manage a creative team of 20-30 something’s, and we were focusing on the importance of making a decision.  Problem is, most leaders don’t understand what “making a decision” means when it comes to that age group.  So if you’re leading or managing a creative team, here’s a few suggestions from our conversation about the importance of making decisions:

1.  Making a decision doesn’t mean being a dictator. It doesn’t mean telling them what you want, and expecting them to deliver.  Stop “ordering” creative people to do your bidding.  If that’s your style, then stop hiring creatives and start hiring robots.

2.  Give them the freedom to create. Yes – you’ll get plenty of results you don’t want, but in the process, it you’re truly open, they’re surprise you.  Give them the opportunity to show you a different perspective, style, or approach.

3.  When push comes to shove, know what you want. Creatives need clarity, not confusion.  Make a decision.  Commit, and then move on.  (And don’t come back later saying, “I wonder if we should have picked the other logo.”)

4.  Finally, if you can’t make a decision, let your creative people do it. Yes – that’s the level of trust you have to have in your creative team.  There are plenty of times I honestly don’t know if I like one version better, so I’ll get input from the team.

Philip and Holly have developed a remarkable creative team at Oasis.  They understand that decisions matter when it comes to creativity.  Remember that the next time you walk into a creative meeting with your team.

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3 Comments

  1. Great advice! I lead a creative team of 20-somethings & am 26 myself. So these posts are very helpful. I’ve been seeing the benefit of communicating as clearly as possible when it comes to management, yet allowing more freedom & collaboration when it comes to aesthetic choices.

  2. As a creative professional and active volunteer leader at Oasis, I totally agree with what you’ve laid out. Philip and Holly are great at giving vision, letting go, demanding innovation, and giving credit to original thinking.

    The only other piece of advice I’d add is about helping younger creatives establish priorities… These days, there seems to be a new, important social network platform popping up every day. Younger employees (I, myself, have been in this category) can get burdened down with busywork that doesn’t meet the broader objectives of the organization. It’s a balance between allowing for experimentation and managing opportunity costs of time spent…

    Glad you’re on the Oasis team, Phil!

    Alec

  3. Listened to a teaching series by Philip Wagner a while ago (the Heart of an Artist) still best message I’ve heard on helping a creative flourish in a church.

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