May 2018 Issue

I’ve directed many a team in my time. From fashion shoot crews in exotic locations, to corporate photo departments of overworked employees, to second shooters on weddings and my current virtual squad, you could say I’ve been around the block when it comes to being in charge. Oh, and let’s not forget the spacey interns with well-connected parents I’ve had to deal with!

What’s my biggest “like a boss” takeaway, so far? Directing a team and managing a team are two very different things. Directing means leading communication among a group towards a collective (usually awesome) end goal. Managing, on the other hand, is simply keeping a team on task.

The ruby slippers to leading a group down the yellow brick road is understanding how each team member best receives direction (shocker, it’s not one size fits all). Yes, we all know the generational stereotypes; Millennials need compliments, GenX(ers) need to be convinced and Baby Boomers need tech lessons but let’s get past that. At the end of the day, everyone has their own special sauce and preferred style of communication. Type A’s respond to organized lists, extroverts need an audience for their super exciting ideas and a creative requires space to mull things over. How you provide guidance with your examples, word choices, tone of voice and even body language all need to be tailored to who is on the receiving end.  

Customizing direction starts with understanding your own style of communication. For example, I know that I am a visual and creative communicator (no surprise there). Image research, color palettes, mood-boards, creative narratives, and metaphors all help me get my point across clearly to my team members. I’m also a visual learner. My own team now uses my communication tricks against me when we’re collaborating on projects! 

Take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I directing or am I managing?” Give up on barking orders, move away from micro-managing and try your hand at directing. Take it from me; guiding a team to that awesome end goal gives you all the feels. It’s one of the reasons being a Creative Director is my jam. 

So come on in for a huddle and…Goooo Team!