Leadership Manifesto: How to bring out the best in creative people

Paul Woodvine, Partner and Managing Creative Director

Paul Woodvine, Partner and Managing Creative Director

How would you measure the success of a company? Your first instinct might be to simply look to the number of products a company sells and the profits it generates. Without a doubt, these are important factors. But to be truly successful, a company should always put the wellbeing of its employees first.

So how do you create the kind of environment that brings out the best in people?

It begins with strong leadership.

When it comes to creative leadership, I believe that the creative process is a great leveller. It provides a natural opportunity to give everyone a voice, to empower people to explore, try new things, and ultimately make their mark.

With this in mind, I’ve written a leadership manifesto, with eight promises that myself and the other creative leaders around Vault49 will make to our teams.

These promises are:

1. Lead with elegance and empathy

We will make decisions carefully and thoughtfully, with no knee-jerk reactions.

We’ll observe and analyse a situation before taking action, listening carefully to everyone’s perspectives before making a plan. Elegant leadership is about being inspiring, effective and helpful, considering everyone’s wellbeing as well as the success of the company as part of the decision-making process.

2. Inspire everyone to be better

We won’t pull rank, or micro-manage every detail.

Our role is to inspire, not just instruct. When leaders spend all of their energy trying to control people, it’s stressful for everyone, and counterproductive, squashing creativity. Our team are encouraged to express themselves and grow.

3. Practice what we preach

We will set a good example, rather than just bark orders.

There are few things more demoralising than having hypocrites in charge who hold themselves to a different standard. We believe that by leading from the front with energy and resilience, we can pass that mindset on to the whole team.

4. Be authentic and consistent

We won’t flip-flop from one opinion to another, depending on who’s in the room. That’s no way to build trust.

As creative leaders, we will strive to be authentic, consistent and clear, reaching decisions in an open, collaborative way. And when we find a consensus, we’ll stick to it.

5. See the bigger picture

We will provide the kind of long-term vision required to navigate this fast-changing world, and make sure everyone’s on board.

Change can be difficult, but it can unlock exciting new possibilities. As leaders, we’ll always take the wider view, and shake our team out of their comfort zones so that we can seize bigger opportunities (but as creatives, we’ll still appreciate the detail, too).

6. Own our failures, and learn from them

We won’t play the blame game if something goes wrong.

Innovation means taking risks, and the bigger the risk, the greater the chance of failure. As leaders, we should be prepared to take responsibility for mistakes, build on what we’ve learned, and take the team forward.

Making mistakes is part of human nature, so we must embrace this, learn how to fail, and accept it as part of the creative process.

7. Communicate openly and honestly

Strong teams are built on communication, trust and respect, and we will talk to everyone on the same level, whether you’re an intern or a creative director.

When leaders are over-protective or unnecessarily secretive, morale-killing rumours start. We won’t keep people in the dark, even if something’s gone wrong.

8. Share responsibility and credit

As creative leaders we won’t hog the limelight in every meeting, or take all the glory at awards shows.

We believe that great leaders should empower more junior members of the team to build client relationships, and help shape projects at every stage. We will support everyone’s personal development, and always give credit where it’s due.

If we, as creative leaders, live by these eight promises day in, day out, then the result is a healthy, supportive studio culture that people want to be part of. A place where great creative work happens and people thrive.

If Vault49 sounds like the kind of environment you would thrive in, we’d love to hear from you:

Paul Woodvine, Partner and Managing Creative Director