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All-Star Creative Leaders Aren't Afraid to Coach All-Star Creatives
By: Emory Brown
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When one makes the transition into the ACD or CD position you know you are moving up the food chain, which can be a joyous time in your career.  Yet, as time moves on, the big salary, super cool man cave, or, for you ladies, the entire home, kids, and other responsibilities can oftentimes make a person very territorial in regards to the management of ideas that may give tremendous light to their subordinates. Now to be fair with everyone...we all know that there are different agency styles when it comes to producing creative work and creative chemistry. As a result, a creative director’s environment may induce the dark-side-of-the-Force-type behavior that unleashes itself onto the souls of defenseless creatives. These places are as follows:

Account Dictatorships: These are agencies ruled by account teams like “Alexander the Great” ruled the world. In some cases, we creatives would prefer to be silvered like a vampire on True Blood.

Heaven Shops: These are the agencies where people are really nice and work together in the perfect utopia of creative bliss. These are more than likely start-ups or great friends who have gotten over the beauty of fame. Once a creative director experiences this kind of bliss it’s hard to work at places that are adverse to its essence, thus turning a once-happy CD into a Necromonger whose mission is to make the world bow to his/her ideals of creative bliss.

Kill or Be Killed Arenas: These are the agencies where teams resemble highly trained CIA operatives whose sole goal is to get their idea to the client presentation regardless of the obstacles.  

We've defined some environments and obvious causes, but sometimes it can get a little deeper. Sometimes our creative amigos suffer from the pressures of ROI and award-show anxiety. The lesson here is about creative empowerment. Prepare yourselves; the atom bomb is about to explode! If you’re a creative leader, you’re already an all-star! You’re the next Phil Jackson! What’s a good team without a good coach? Nothing! It doesn’t exist! 

As a creative leader, you have a lot of influence on how to shape your own superstar team. In most cases you already have talented players that are just looking for their great leader (you) to lead them to the next level; the next creative concept and the next big award-show win. Why worry about the fantastic copywriter on your team or that dynamic art director? They aren’t the competition; they’re your Michael Jordan. They’re your Scottie Pippen. What coach wants to bench their best players? Why would anyone, as creative leader, want to stifle the spirit of a great creative team? This is nonsense and counterproductive for the client, the agency, and more importantly to the morale of the people that work for the leader that maybe experiencing this struggle.

Take your place as that leader. You’re one of the greats! Sit back in your seat and call the big plays. Encourage your team to throw great ideas around and tell them not to be afraid to pass the idea so their team member can score big, because great teams work together. Great teams win big and great coaches make great teams. So go big, coach! Oh, I forgot...go big, Creative Director! Phil Jackson has a lot of championship rings because he was a great team leader. How many golden lions will you have if you make that your focus too?


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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