Book Review: Leading Creative Teams

What makes a creative lead? Is it someone who understands design? Someone who knows how to fake it till they make it? What turns a creative into a creative director? Is it something people have versus what others might not have? Due to my background, I have been on Creative Teams, I have assisted with leading creative teams. But what makes a Creative Director excel? Well, I bought a book that was part of a Humble Bundle and I decided on diving in, let’s find out what I thought of it.


Being a creative lead, from an art director, creative director, and manager in general can be a very daunting task. Skills and sharing knowledge can be the key to understand what goes into it. This book touches on the best practices, and ideas for developing, managing and growing into the position. From interviews, to ideas to discussing about past projects, this book drops a lot of knowledge very fast.

What I Gained from It

Being a creative director is not an easy job, it isn’t just worrying about if the design matches the client’s goals. But it is also about understanding your creative teams’ strengths, weaknesses, among the many other things. A thing a creative director must understand is probably empathy, creatives are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are building ideas, developers don’t just code, a designer doesn’t just design, a copywriter doesn’t just put words to paper. Each of these people have strengths and goals and the creative lead must realize that pushing them beyond a limit can hinder them if you aren’t aware of what they are thinking.

When it comes to reviewing ideas, you can’t just lay out your team for something being wrong, but you must help guide them to the clients end goal. Creatives are nervous about showing their work cause for some, they put their heart and soul into something, and if a creative director tears it down that could cause them to retreat and hide ideas or maybe even quit. Also, you must balance many different creative styles, maybe a developer likes coding with a team of people and sharing ideas on how to reach their goals. Maybe a copywriter needs to be in a silo of silence until the first draft is ready to be reviewed. These type of working structures need to be taken into account. Another thing I found enlightening was the times where the book talked about how you deal with someone who does something for them that goes away from the client goals. Sometimes people like something but it doesn’t fit the mold of what the client wants or needs, and you have to steer them towards that. Some creatives can take that very personally and I enjoyed how this book discusses that cause I have run into that a few times with some freelancers I have worked with.

Who is this book for?

This book I would say fits into a niche. If you work on a creative team or want to lead a creative team, I suggest adding this book to your must-read list. Now if you are thinking “But I don’t want to be a creative lead.” I would still suggest reading this book, this will help creatives understand what is going through a creative directors’ mind.

In Conclusion

Being a leader of a creative team is something that takes some learning, at the end of the book there are interviews that talk about what lead someone to that point of becoming a lead. It was probably the most informative sections of the books. I learned a great deal from this and I feel like it will help push me forward with my own experience in becoming a better creative lead.