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If You Lead Creatives, This Is What You Need to Know

What Not to Do When Leading Creatives (Or Any Team)

There are two things Todd Henry says leaders should never do: Declaring un-declarables and trying to play the self-sufficient superhero. Both of these behaviors are rooted in insecurity, Henry explains. 

To explain the concept of declaring un-declarables, Henry gave an example from his own family. For several days, his family was seeing local news reports about a bear in their general area. As his children grew increasingly frightened as more and more reports emerged, Henry assured them that the bear was about 50 miles from their house and that there was no way they would ever see it. Much to his chagrin, the bear actually wandered into their neighborhood some days later and Henry had to walk back his emphatic declaration. He lost some trust in this process. In the same way, leaders shouldn’t make absolute statements when they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. 

A leader plays the superhero when he or she pushes the team away due to insecurity. Perhaps the leader doesn’t know what to do or how to get a job done. This is not the time to distance oneself, Henry explains. Rather, it’s the time to draw closer to the team and explore solutions. 

When a leader falls into these bad habits, they tend to do things like micromanage their team (never a good idea) and leading by control rather than influence. As mentioned before, micromanaging causes a creative utter that dreaded phrase: “Just tell me what to do.”

Henry says we need to transition from leading by control (presence) to leading by influence (principle). In order to do this, we have to establish your point of view. You need a leadership philosophy. For instance, does your team know what acceptable and unacceptable risks look like? They need to. Remember, they need freedom within limits. 

Without a leadership philosophy, ghost rules emerge, Henry warns. Ghost rules are the unwritten rules that crop up when someone has a new idea or wants to try something that hasn’t been done before. So if you want new ideas, make sure you have a leadership philosophy in place.  

As the Leader Goes…

Finally, Henry concludes with a phrase we’ve all heard before: As goes the leader, so goes the team. In other words, Henry emphasizes a leader needs to take care of him or herself first. If you are not inspired, you cannot inspire, he reasons. Your team should be drinking from the overflow of inspiration in your life. Not only do they need to draw inspiration from you, but your team also needs to see what a healthy creative looks like. 

“A bad leader’s influence dies with them. A great leader’s influence echoes for generations,” Henry concludes.


For more content on the 2019 Global Leadership Summit, please see:

Top 50 Quotes From Global Leadership Summit 2019
If You Haven’t Heard Bear Grylls Give a Pep Talk, You Need To
Hostage Negotiator Chris Voss on the Skills Every Leader Needs
Separating Myth From Truth in the Generations
Craig Groeschel: How to Let Your Constraints Drive Innovation
Danielle Strickland: This Is What Influential Leaders Know About Transformational Change

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.