Out and About – Creative leadership

How do you motivate a creative team to produce great work, even in difficult or stressful conditions?

The Parker Design team recently participated in a D&AD training session in Manchester to explore this topic in detail and identify the keys to creative leadership.

We spent a very honest and insightful day at Ziferblat with Thea Hamrén – Creative Director of Mr. President in London – refining our approach on how to nurture and inspire creative professionals by overcoming the most common barriers to team motivation.

As well as learning more about ourselves, we came away with some great ways to drive creative leadership at every level of the business. Below are some of our team’s top tips from the session:


“A good leader understands that getting the best work out of any team is about playing to each person’s strengths and being a good listener. To enable coaching and development, it’s important to make giving feedback a positive experience so people feel that you understand their position and challenges.” (Donna Jeffs, Client Services Director)

Engage in active listening to be sure you really hear what your creative team is saying. Sometimes creative leadership is about taking a moment to read between the lines so that you can address problems before they escalate or give your team what they need to produce exceptional work.” (Helen Plumtree, Account Director)


Delivering results

Take time to tune into your team and understand the conditions that each person needs to produce their best work. Our industry can be very stressful, so when deadlines and budgets hang in the balance, it pays to know how you can adjust the environment to inspire creativity and help each individual deliver under pressure.” (Simon Hallows, Director)

Have a short stand-up meeting with your team each morning. A quick 5-minute meeting can help identify issues before they build up, clarify the creative direction, and ultimately, save an hour’s worth of headaches later on. Plus, it’s a good time to sneak in a cuddle.” (Martin Higham, Production Director)

Lead your team with consistency – if you’re constantly moving the target or sending mixed messages, people won’t know where they stand or how to deliver the best solution to meet your objectives.” (Dan Kendrew, Account Director)


Facilitating communication

Share information in a way that helps everyone on the team move forward together. Often people are looking at the same problem with different motivations, so opening a dialogue that helps people identify common goals will encourage buy-in from the team and get a difficult problem over the line.” (Mark Bickley, Senior Account Manager)

Make on-going analysis a part of the process, from concept to final delivery. By encouraging your team to continuously reflect on projects throughout the lifecycle, people become more comfortable putting forward their ideas and talking through solutions.” (Kieron Dony, Technical Director)



Be the type of leader that values two-way feedback in the debriefing process. Encourage everyone on your team to get involved in the creative process and offer their own ideas and solutions when problems arise. This shows you value other opinions and support positive change.” (Mark Bowers, Creative Director)

Debriefing with both your clients and your team after a project is invaluable. It isn’t always necessary, but when I do use it, I find that it strengthens working relationships and future projects move forward much more smoothly.” (Lauren Parker, Account Manager)

Don’t be afraid to give feedback, even if it’s negative. Having a timely and respectful conversation about issues opens the door to learning and gives you and your team the chance to adopt what works and change what doesn’t.” (Andrea Smart, Marketing Director)


Solving problems

Leverage the experience of other leaders to solve creative problems. Everyone has different experiences and approaches, so use this to your advantage. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to throw everything out on the table and pick and choose what you need to move forward.” (Tom Gaskell, Art Director)

A big thank you to Thea for spending the day with us. We definitely learned a lot during this D&AD session and are looking forward to putting these ideas to work within our creative teams.

Our Creative Director, Mark Bowers, with Thea Hamren of Mr. President.