Creative Leadership

to strengthen your company’s most valuable capital

What’s the difference between creative innovators and… everyone else?

Collaboration between people who have staked their career on making things—be they coders, artists, writers, designers, utter mavericks—and those who hire them seems to be a challenge. One cliche that too often proves true is that creative people don’t always succeed as managers, and many managers and leaders struggle to manage them.

The truth is that there are fundamental differences that make managing a creative team different from managing any other resource in your organization.


Many leadership strategies that are considered highly effective in a business context simply don’t succeed when developing new ideas into products and services. The principles outlined in a book like Creativity Inc. are helpful to reorganize corporate priorities; however, these principles are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actually innovating something evolutionary, or even revolutionary as the leader of a creative team. How do you create the context in which the team you lead—let’s call them artists—thrive?

If you are in charge of developing new products and services within a large organization, whether by assembling a team in-house or via acquisition, I want to help you get that team on track.


Creativity is connection on infinite levels, but let’s focus on three. There’s the connection of seemingly disparate concepts, approaches, disciplines, even whole industries. There are business connections that bring unexpected opportunities for synergy. Then there’s the connection between members of a team, the knowledge that collaboration yields a sum greater than its parts, and can produce… what we could even call joy.

As you have researched and read about how your favorite products and services  made their way from inception to completion, does it ever seem almost as if random chance played nearly as essential a role as hard work and effective planning? Learning to recognize what is working early in the process, intuiting what “secret sauce” might make critical differences, and quickly understanding what roadblocks need to be removed is vital to smooth execution. This ideally needs to occur early in the process, before costly development resources and deadlines constratin options.


A successful venture is made up of the collaboration of many into a singular human vision. When a product or project fails despite a great concept, it can often be seen, in hindsight at least, to be the victim of too many competing priorities.

This doesn’t mean that there is some auteur that needs to come up with all of the ideas. Instead, it is the responsibility of the leader to be something akin to the “immune system” of the project, continually rejecting what’s not working and focusing the creative team on what does.