How to Overcome a Creative Disrupter

December 21, 2016

In today’s fast-paced world, disruptions happen often, drastically changing the course of people and events. The same happens in the creative world: New leadership comes in, positively or negatively effecting the status quo based on personality, vision, or otherwise.

So, why is this important?

I attended an awesome creative conference in Austin recently and one of the questions posed to the group was this: How can your creative team weather new leadership and come out stronger on the other side?

Often when a new leader, say a VP of Marketing or CMO, enters an organization, it is in their nature to want to change things. From talking with many creative leaders, most of the challenges arise over miscommunication. It’s important for Marketing leaders to fully understand how your creative group is structured and the value you bring to your organization. But for many creative leaders, proving their team’s worth is challenging. See, marketing has analytics (“look how many clicks we got to our website”) and sales can undoubtedly show their performance numbers and contributions to the bottom line. But what about Creative?

Based on conversations with some great creative leaders, I’ve earmarked three important things you must do to turn this disruption into a success.

First, start documenting. Start tracking projects. Start tracking length of time projects take and even how much time specific tasks take in those projects. Additionally, start tracking marketing performance and how that engagement leads back to your team. If an email campaign you helped create generates “X” amount of dollars in sales, then document that. Not just showing what you did but how it performed can be the first big “ah ha” moment for a new leader, allowing them to see creative’s performance and value.

Second, communicate. Be proactive and set up a meeting or multiple meetings with the new leader to showcase what your team has been doing and goals for the future. Establishing trust and value early on is important to establishing your creative team as long-term strategic partners to marketing and the rest of the organization instead of simply order-takers.

Remember this: In any strong relationship, both at home or at work, you must have communication and trust—and without communication there can’t be trust.

Third, and certainly not least, you must be a creative LEADER. Sometimes that responsibility means you must stand your ground and fight for your team in the midst of decision- making you don’t necessarily agree with by new leadership. You need to steer the ship and be the compass for your team. If not, you’re like a boat with no direction. You’ll move where the tide takes you. Leaders have a great way of inspiring others to be great and sometimes a disrupter provides that perfect storm that allows creative leaders to be a voice in the darkness when others might be silent.

I hear from creative leaders all the time that proving their value and taking their rightfully-earned seat at the strategic table can be challenging, but with proper communication and data to back it up, you can win the day and become a voice in your organization that is looked upon and respected for many years to come.

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