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Jonathan Flower
Jonathan Flower

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Ever feel like disengaging when your work is tightly controlled?

An aspect of managing creative teams that I take a lot of pride in and value highly is encouraging them to engage, use their heads, and not wait for me to make decisions. Here is an excerpt from Daily Creative by Todd Henry that does a great job of explaining the idea.

Influence vs control
Early in your career you are rewarded based on how effectively you control your work. You're primarily tasked with executing decisions being made by others, and if you deliver on expectations consistently you will be rewarded with more responsibility. You might even be promoted into a role where you are managing others. This is the critical moment when many people slip up. Once you are in a position of leadership your job is no longer to control the work, it is to influence it. If you attempt to control the work of the talented creative pros on your team they will eventually disengage until you tell them exactly what to do. This means that you won’t get the best work out of them because they will stop spending energy thinking of ideas that you are likely to change anyway.

To lead by influence whether you are leading a team, a client, or your peers, means to spend less time telling them how to do the work and more time teaching them how to think about the work. Establish guiding principles that help them understand what successful work looks like instead of them guessing what you want. How to know when an idea is good instead of them waiting for you to tell them. And how to deal with conflict instead of always stepping in and resolving it. And other elements of your leadership philosophy that will help them deliver great results. To help your team deliver brilliant unique results, focus on leading with influence instead of leading by control.
Here is today’s question: Where are you trying to control the work right now instead of influencing it?

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