Decision-making lies at the heart of what a leader does. Every day they make decisions. Some are small, simple, and harmless. Others are much more important, stirring the people led, and often touching the core of the organization.
It’s inevitable, leaders must make choices.
But what about the creative leader? When they make leadership errors, it limits those they lead and these errors can even become the creative ceiling for the entire team.
I’ve noticed these five common leadership mistakes from creative leaders that can limit those they lead.
1. MISUNDERSTANDING THE LEADERSHIP ROLE
Becoming a leader isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s probably something you’ve been exhibiting for some time. It could be true, however, that you have just recently been awarded a new leadership position and officially have responsibility over creatives. And now your authority and responsibilities are very different from those you had before.
A good leader knows the job descriptions of their creative team. This knowledge aids them greatly in managing. But a leader also knows very well their own role within the organization and their capacity as a leader.
And if you don’t, you’ll make mistakes. How could you not? If you don’t know where you have “been aimed” by your organization, how can you “aim” your team members toward their proper creative targets?
2. FAILING TO QUALIFY GOALS
When your team, individually and corporately, doesn’t have understandable goals, they will wander. They will also wonder what they are supposed to be doing. There isn’t any possible way to be productive or creative if they have no idea what they’re working for or what their work means. And prioritizing workloads ineffectively will also cause errors in outcome and overall product. The creative needs to know why they create.
A leader is clear—offering clear goals for the team. The team must know where to go and they must know their mission as a team in order to reach maximum effectiveness and creativeness.
3. MOTIVATION FAILURES
Do you know what truly motivates your team? If you don’t, how can you lead?
This is a common mistake, because many creative leaders assume their team is working because they need a job. This is probably not the only thing that motivates them; and this is especially true for creatives.
Creatives do what they love. In other words, they most often live within their area of passion; within their skill and talents. They are often motivated by achievement, responsibility, praise, or a sense of being on a team.
4. BEING TOO FRIENDLY
This one sounds counterintuitive—especially when talking about church leadership.
Most leaders want to be friendly and approachable to their team. Isn’t that obvious? Most managers want to be loved by their team. It’s proven that individuals prefer to work for someone they like and they almost always produce and create at a higher level when they do.
However, as a leader, you’ll have to make tough decisions. And these choices will affect individuals on your team and sometimes the entire team. Leaders have to make the right decisions and these decisions are often hard.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with your team. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the leader. Make sure you set clear boundaries so team members aren’t tempted to take advantage of you.
5. NOT BEING AVAILABLE TO YOUR TEAM
Number five goes hand in hand with number four.
Leaders are busy. Leaders have much responsibility. And leaders can get so wrapped up in their own workload that they don’t make themselves available to their team.
Don’t do this.
Yes, you are a creative leader so you are probably creating too, but your creative teammates must come first. If you are not available, how will they have the support they need? How can you guide them? How can you develop their creative passions and keep their skills from being isolated? And as a church leader of creatives, how will you know your teammates, their family needs, what they are struggling with, or what they need to celebrate?
A leader is always available.
Leaders must make decisions. And yes, it’s true, we can learn from the mistakes we make. But taking the time to recognize and avoid common errors in leadership can help make you and your team more productive and creative. Avoiding these limiting mistakes will also strengthen your standing, make you a more respected leader, and increase your leadership capacity and effectiveness.