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Phil Cooke Podcast

May 14, 2019

Good leaders know that a positive work environment is more important than vision, especially when it comes to leading a creative team. Phil Cooke shares 10 tips to creating a vibrant creative culture in your ministry or organization for your creative team to reach their best work.


It’s no secret that culture is more important than vision.I’ve worked in creative, vibrant cultures where original thinking is valued and wonderful things happen. On the other hand, I’ve worked at organizations where you could literally feel the oppression when you walked into the building. Those destructive cultures often have leaders with great vision and potential, but because the culture is so negative, that vision will never be realized.


So how to do you create a creative culture? Here are 10 principles I’ve used to turn around numerous organizational cultures:


  1. Build stability– Creative people need stability. If they’re worried about losing their job, financial problems, or excessive turnover, they’ll never release their best ideas. Even when your organization or ministry is going through difficult times, create an atmosphere of stability for the team. You’ll be rewarded down the road.


  1. Create a safe culture– Creative people do not respond well to criticism. Leaders who can help their team move from bad ideas to legendary ideas are rare and it comes from creating a safe and trusted culture.


  1. Keep your leadership on the same page– Make sure your leadership team is unified and moving with you in building a creative culture. One critical or disconnected leader or manager can sow seeds of doubt that will topple the entire project with your team.


  1. Allow for flexibility with your team– Creative people don’t all operate on the same schedule or work the same way. Give your team some flexibility and it will revolutionize their attitude while unleashing their creativity.


  1. Get them the tools they need– Nothing drags a creative team down as much as broken, old, or out-of-date tools. Within your budget, do whatever you can to get them the right computers, design tools and video equipment and send them to conferences and seminars where they can interact and discover new ways of doing things.


  1. Push them out of their comfort zone– Leaders often think that creative people want to be left alone and operate on their own schedule. While they probably won’t admit it, creative people love deadlines because it gives them perspective on the project.


  1. Give them space– One of the most important aspects of a creative culture, once it’s in process, is to get out of the way of your creative team. We all know micro-managing is a disaster for anyone – especially creatives. So give them space and let them solve problems on their own.


  1. Understand your structure– Every organization needs an organizational structure. Who reports to who matters, and hierarchy is important. But when it comes to communication, I recommend you throw the organizational structure out the window.


Your creative team should be able to call anyone to ask questions and discuss ideas. Don’t force them to communicate through supervisors, managers, or anyone else. Create a free-flowing communications system, and the ideas will grow.


  1. Walk The Factory Floor– Leadership expert John Maxwellrecommends that leaders “walk the factory floor” and meet every employee. Develop a personal relationship with employees at all levels – especially when it comes to your creative team. Pixar and Disney Animation President Ed Catmulltakes that seriously – even when it comes to giving bonuses.


  1. Give them credit– Finally, a great creative culture allows everyone to be noticed for their accomplishments. Never take credit for your team’s work, and always give them the honor they’re due. You’ll find that when you protect your creative team and allow them to get the glory for their work, they’ll follow you into a fire.


Creating a creative and positive culture in your organization is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. Create this culture and you and your team will do amazing things. – Phil Cooke


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