7 Good Leadership Skills to Help You Move Up

You’re an accomplished designer, but your dream is to lead the creative team. So how do you make the leap? By focusing on what distinguishes a good manager from the rest of the pack.

TCG_0215_Management_SkillsSource: The Creative Group

The Creative Group surveyed advertising and marketing executives about what it takes to assume a management position. Strong motivational or leadership skills topped the list, cited by 53 percent of respondents. If you aspire to land a supervisory role, develop and polish these seven qualities that make a great leader:

  1. Boldness. To become a creative director, you need a reputation for innovation, along with an ability to sell your ideas to internal stakeholders or clients. You can build on other people’s ideas, but you should always have plenty of your own. Speak up, take smart risks and dare to be a little uncomfortable. Then encourage those you work with to do the same.
  2. Resilience. Not all ideas are winners. But creative leaders encourage their teams to be persistent. For instance, the Apple Newton MessagePad died out quickly. But it paved the way for wildly successful smartphones and tablets. If a pitch isn’t well received, make that your impetus to work even harder on the next one. Learn from each failure and turn those lessons into winning campaigns.
  3. Awareness. Good leadership skills include being alert to emerging trends. Be a voracious reader and keen observer. Subscribe to design magazines. Follow forward thinkers on Twitter and subscribe to their blogs. And get inspired by industries beyond graphic design, such as architecture, cinema, food, fashion, music and travel.
  4. Passion. A leader’s genuine enthusiasm can be inspiring and contagious. Develop and demonstrate passion for your work by going beyond what’s required. Come in early and stay late to meet critical deadlines. Volunteer to take the lead on projects and consistently do more than the minimum. Show management that you’re not just working for a paycheck.
  5. Altruism. The best leaders share the glory. Recognizing that many heads and hands are responsible for a project’s success, they acknowledge and praise the contributions of the entire design team. They also share their talents and help others acquire the same proficiencies, rather than keeping knowledge to themselves.
  6. Excellence. Successful creative managers have a solid history of outstanding work, including impressive portfolios and design awards. And they help their staff achieve excellence, too, through professional development. To strengthen this leadership skill, don’t be satisfied with “good enough.” Keep your standards high and constantly look for ways to improve your craft.
  7. Unflappability. Managers need to be calm in times of crisis. If a client changes direction at the 11th hour, for example, good creative directors don’t complain and panic. They use their leadership skills more effectively – by analyzing the situation and coming up with solutions. So, to gain a management role, be sure to dial down the drama and ramp up your problem-solving abilities.

The time to develop good leadership skills is when you’re still in the rank and file. By working on these qualities now, you’ll be ready to move up and manage when you get the nod.

T56132014 HOW Leadership Collection

Enjoy this selection of recordings from the 2014 HOW Leadership Conference. Whether you’re a CMO, a Creative Director, or you’re just managing your own to-do list, the ideas you’ll encounter in these recordings will challenge, enlighten and motivate you to be an agent for positive change in your world. This collection includes a total of 10 video recordings. Get it here.