Our job is to enable and inspire creative leadership

Published on August 08, 2017

What are the qualities needed to work alongside the Marketing Team, SMT and The Board, to achieve that one common creative goal.

Creative Leadership: As a design consultancy head, a fundamental quality of leadership is authenticity. A leader's primary job is to inspire and mobilise people around common goals, and this can only happen if the person is truly passionate about their own values and beliefs, and is able to build trust by staying true to them. To mobilise others also requires understanding what motivates them. Creativity is a mindset: those who develop it tend to be motivated by the opportunity to create something bigger than themselves.

Other essential qualities for creative leadership include empathy, curiosity, kindness, imagination, humility, passion and adaptability. In general, most people are vastly more creative and capable than they recognise.

Creative Vision: So, when we work alongside our client's marketing teams, all this comes into effect and one of the main things which is apparent, is to define a clear creative vision for the team or organisation and being able to execute it. Great work is 80% idea and 80% execution. Leadership is about aligning all parts of an organisation around a common vision. It requires adaptability to listen and to understand people.

Our job is not to command and control, but rather enable, inspire and support, so the key is to build a culture that cultivates talent and develops creative leadership at all levels of an organisation.

Creative Culture: A first step in proving the value of creativity is to work with our client and challenge the brief. We both need a good grasp of the business context as well as the creative process. it is essential to learn the language of business, immerse ourselves in the problem and demonstrate our value through making, then measuring the impact of the work. If you use subjective, abstract or purely aesthetic language you reinforce the preconception that you are just the decorator.

Many of our projects now start as a brand-building effort and then turn into a culture-building, organisational transformation and change management project all wrapped into one. This it turns out, is the most effective way to evolve an established brand/organisation, into a truly modern one. 

Creative Value: Modern brands are people-centric organisations driven by a shared purpose that meets human needs. Their leaders know they need to build and nurture an organisational culture that will enable every person to pursue the common vision to the best of their abilities. They focus on the relationship between individual and organisational values. The essential part of 'Employee Branding'.

Building a creative culture in any organisation that still operates as a traditional, industrial-era corporation can be very challenging. Top down behaviour, hierarchy, command and control, career ladders, vested interests, silos and short term thinking are all obstacles to building a creative culture and a modern brand outlook. Endorsing and communicating positive values like 'customer focus', 'innovation' and accountability' is great, but it needs to be followed by actions and behaviours that shape a culture living and breathing those values. Too often the pressure of quarterly results leads to behaviour that prioritise short-term goals.

At Levells, we believe the actions you take are more important than the stories you tell. If we can gain the trust of organisation leaders and work with them to align people around values they authentically share, the actions and behaviours of relitively few people can be infectious and help build a strong creative culture throughout your organisation.

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