What’s the secret to leading a team a creative team? Five years ago I hired a team of designers, UXers, and researchers. I found myself moving from a role as a freewheeling creative for hire to the full-time team lead. We didn’t study a lot of management theory in art school, so that transition stressed the hell out of me. I read widely, from a lot of different sources, digging for clues about how to structure an in-house team. I researched how to assign work and track projects between marketing and product teams. How to scale and set up career ladders. Eventually, my head was stuffed with facts, and I was dreaming of org charts. Not a place anyone wants to be in.

So it was somewhat of a relief when I came across advice that brought it all down to a simple and human level. In the book, Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg referenced Google’s Project Aristotle and Oxygen. The number one indicator they found in productive teams? Trust among team members. After spending so much time poring over articles in the Harvard Business Review and far too many hot creative management books, I was happy to see the most effective “secrets” are the things that have felt right to do all along.

Listen to people, deliver on your promises, create a safe space for everyone's ideas and remind everyone that their work is meaningful.

It can be as simple as that.

Design Leader, Sporadic Writer.

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