While we all have our strengths and weaknesses, creative people present a unique challenge for many leaders. Case in point: type leading creatives into Google and you’ll see over 13.5 million results.
As outlined in Part 1, 30% of creatives possess balanced traits that help them not only generate new ideas, but also build alignment, earn commitment, and drive implementation. However, the other 70% of creatives often find that their different drivers compete in sometimes unhelpful ways. The Artist’s passion for novelty may leave many projects unfinished, the Purist’s drive to implement their ideas can push them toward unhelpful pet projects, and the Improver’s desire for conformity may limit their impact.
How can leaders help these paradoxical creatives maximize their impact?
When leading the Artist…
Support – but guide and direct. Bring the Artist into multiple projects and inject variety into their workday to help fight boredom. Then clearly define spaces and boundaries for exploration and imagination. Provide a creative sandbox, not a desert.
Simplify implementation and execution. Consider offering project management training or pairing them with a more execution-focused employee (e.g., the Improver). Coach how to build alignment internally so others are more willing to help them achieve completion.
When leading the Purist…
Clearly spell out the “benefits” of building alignment. The Purist may see little need to bring others along, especially if they see a clear path and are passionate enough. However, they may not realize that they will only be able to drive their project so far alone. At some point, they will run into frustrating barriers that slow them down. Aligning early and often can help them make their dreams a reality.
Coach for situational awareness; make it safe to “quit.” Building alignment may not always go as planned. Help the Purist read the organizational landscape and assess whether resistance should be worked through or if legitimate factors indicate a project should be paused or ended. Reinforce and praise appropriate decisions to stop.
When leading the Improver…
Encourage early and often. The Improver may have untapped creative potential obscured by self-doubt or discomfort with visibility and politics. Celebrating their contributions can build confidence, encouraging them to challenge the status quo and push more of their ideas.
Be their advocate. Help them voice their ideas and solutions. Coach them on messaging and selling their ideas. As they build these skills, be their advocate by actively supporting their ideas.
To better understand what drives each member of your organization and to lead them more effectively, check out the DRiV™ – a new type of personality assessment tool from Leadership Worth Following.