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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Gould

5 Tips on Leading Creative Teams


There’s no shortage of literature concerned with team development, exploring the means of increased performance and effective group communication. This article however will not be extensively generic as the specific focus lies with inspiring creative teams. The importance of creativity in any business cannot be understated and is a key driver in our global economy surrounding innovation. Creative intelligence and imagination are especially precious in art, design and advertising disciplines. Yet one of the biggest challenges for leaders and organizations is ensuring a steady output for creative thinking and fresh ideas. Although certain strategies may vary depending on the size of your team, I have found the following measures to be simple and effective ways of fostering creatives and promoting inspiration that also appeals to a wide range of personalities.

  • Trust, allow space and support for new ideas. In a study entitled “Project Aristotle” Google spent nearly half a decade studying what qualities make effective and successful teams. The single most common and important factor was psychological safety, the comfort of being able to take risks and be vulnerable with your team. It’s vital that we recognize and support efforts from creative thinkers within our organizations and teams. Turning down ideas or having negative responses will ultimately stifle new perspectives and solutions. Leadership must recognize the risk inherent in new ideas and create a culture that softens the fear of failure.

  • Collaborate & Incorporate, diversity is the key to creativity. In most instances diversification is concerned with the composition of a physical workforce but diversity of thought is critical for the association of new ideas and concepts. Studies have also shown that psychological diversity, or deep-level diversity, is salient in promoting creativity. Exposing creatives to multiple perspectives is a proven strategy for innovation and idea flexibility. Through incorporation and collaboration your team also becomes multidisciplinary and cross-functional.

  • Break Patterns, there also needs to be a diversity of work. Do not minimize the effect that routine plays on creative teams. Established patterns can stifle ideation and dishearten imaginative people. Additionally, most creative teams are constructed through role specializations, which can be isolating at times. Creative directors should attempt to diversify assignments amongst their team or offer channels of creativity autonomy elsewhere.

  • Learning, always set aside time for discovery. Seeking new information and exercising creativity is a surefire way to find inspiration and promote personal growth. Sharing in an exercise together or reading a shared article, then reflecting and experimenting on it as a group has positive impacts on creativity and team culture. In fact, some of the top business leaders in the world dedicate five hours per week toward deliberate learning. I would also encourage practices in team knowledge sharing through routine brainstorming sessions, community resource hubs and cross-training.

  • One-on-Ones, qualitative talks for path-finding. Effective leadership in creative teams is key for mitigating any conflicts that may arise from diversity and requires a conscious effort that translates natural tension into creative harmony. Leaders must integrate the complexity of individual creativity to create something novel. This requires a strong understanding of your team’s personalities, creative strengths and career goals. By always having an open door, learning about the passions of your team and fostering a truly collaborative environment you will ensure a healthy culture for co-innovation.

Creative minds strive to apply their talent and find meaning in their job. Moreover, creative personalities aim for a clear sense of purpose in their work and with it the married pride of ownership from its genesis. It may seem like a worrisome need, but can be stimulated through variety, communication and opportunity. Lastly, creative people don’t want to be confined to a box professionally or personally, be sure to express opportunities for growth and channels for their input often.

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