Emphasis on Strategy
During the course of their careers, creative professionals are increasingly apt to play strategic roles. Mary Scott, chair of graduate studies at the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University, summed it up this way: “Designers who are trained to solve complex visual communication problems and possess business acumen are well suited to more global roles in corporations. Under the best conditions, a good creative leader understands the business model as well as the design model.”
To speak the language of a company’s senior executives, creative leaders must possess strong interpersonal abilities. In fact, three out of four respondents said soft skills would be the most valuable factor if two candidates interviewing for a creative role had similar creative and technical skills.
Steve Benfield, senior creative director at SAS in Cary, N.C., explained, “Great communication skills — verbal, writing, and the most overlooked, listening — are key to a successful creative career. You have to be able to listen first so you can learn about the business and creative needs that will drive the business forward.” Benfield points out that most creatives can recall great designs that were left on the table either because they didn’t match the business need or they were not presented in a manner that helped decision-makers connect with the concept. “You have to be able to clearly and concisely present your ideas to the decision-makers in a compelling way that helps them recognize the business benefit,” he said