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Big Ideas

Anne Benedict: Defining Quality Leadership

Anne Benedict, Director of Leadership Development for Interpublic Group, breaks down her shortlist of tried-and-true tips for creative leaders.


According to Vince Lombardi, leaders aren’t born, they are made. Smart corporations recognize at least some element of truth in this, and set out to cultivate this specific talent in their teams, with the help of experts like Anne Benedict. Having previously worked with the Disney-ABC Television group, and currently as Director of Leadership Development for the Interpublic Group, she has curated and managed programs for leaders and executives across the world. To expand on the fourth installment of Directives, Anne sat down with us to share her insights regarding the successful development, organization and leadership of creative teams.

No team, creative or otherwise, can exist without focus or direction. However, success rarely occurs in dictator-esque environments. “Good leadership and management practices apply across all types of work, both creative and traditional, because the common denominator is people. People in every oeuvre have skills, motivations, aspirations, personalities; each person brings their own mix to the table. Work, by nature, is accomplished through groups of people working towards a common goal and leading and managing are fundamental to the effectiveness of reaching that goal.”Recognizing that team building is a two way street, Anne offers the following guidelines for navigating both sides:

Give feedback.

  • More than just using a thumbs up/thumbs down approach, explain the ‘why’ behind your comments. Also, offer constructive feedback on the way the team is working, such as the processes they are using, as well as the quality of their relationships and behaviors that they are exhibiting.

Be ready to give credit and spot talent.

  • Good leaders develop talent and aren’t afraid to shine the spotlight on or give credit to a team member. Insecure leaders take the credit for themselves. Being a good leader may mean hiring and developing someone who is even better than you!

Support risk-taking and failure, to a point.

  • Leaders need to support risk-taking, but not to the point of repeated failure or poor execution. A poor idea with good execution is more excusable than a good idea with poor execution.

Manage aspirations.

  • Especially for your brightest talent, make it your business to know what they aspire to and what motivates them. Often with creatives, traditional promotions up the management ranks aren’t enough. Look for other ways for them to develop and see new perspectives, such as through new projects, job assignments, clients, media, geographies or workteams.

Anne believes the sharing of creative talents and alternate viewpoints can be to everyone’s benefit. She offers this advice to creative professionals:”From working with many creatives and experiencing first-hand the ways that you think and the wonders that you create, traditional functions such as finance, human resources, and IT can truly benefit from the talent that you bring. I would encourage you to come out of your corner and give the organization the benefit of your great mind and ideas. Participate in any organizational initiatives that bring your creativity to bear to help resolve real business issues that your own company is facing. That way, you can showcase the value of your ideas, and you can see how the rest of us aren’t as gifted, but perhaps bring other strengths that you can draw also upon.”

Comments (2)
  • SomethingIntense

    GREAT READ!! INSPIRATIONAL and very CONCISE!! Thanks!

  • Toronto strategy consultant

    In my vision, a good leader is that person who knows how to lead others, what ideas to implement to achieve the company’s goals.
    Also, he must communicate very well with his team members, to be able to listen others, to be responsible with a positive attitude. I’ve learned quite many things at a leadership training camp which was held by a big company!

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