It's hard to be a creative leader. There's so much to balance--the client's agenda, office politics, tight deadlines and small budgets. Add onto that the need to be consistently innovative, and even the most resilient creative leader can feel depleted and worn down.

There's a quick way to revive and maintain your mojo and it's called Compassionate Management. It's a management style, pure and simple, and you can use it to manage your team and manage yourself.

The 3 Principles of Compassionate Management

  • Be Your Self: They chose you. Show up.
    You can twist yourself into a pretzel to try to fit in or please others, or you can stop mid-step, turn on your heels and choose to be Be Your Self. It's scary and empowering to let your Self show up. The potential for rejection is huge, but it really is a choice between self-rejection or self-love.
  • Trust Your Gut: Your gut is your instinct and it's your greatest guide.
    The gut takes information and guidance from the heart and the head and spits out a solution. Often it's not an obvious solution or even one you want. But it is the right solution.
  • Own Your Power: True power is how we treat others and ourselves.
    You can choose to be the kind of manager who listens between the words to understand what is really being communicated. Someone who is kind, clear and direct so no one wastes time and energy on guessing, proving something, or posturing. Someone who knows that the more we connect with each other, the more trust is built and power plays disappear. Did you know that eliminating power plays allows the team to focus on the work product, not politics?

  • Let's look at an example of counseling a Divo (male Diva) using Compassionate Management:
    An extremely talented associate on my team was sabotaging his success. He spoke in a condescending tone with the marketing partners, he shot down people's ideas, and he ignored the strategic goals on the creative brief and only presented the solutions he thought best served their needs.

    I was told to threaten his job and demand immediate and sustained performance improvement. But I'd only seen that approach result in short-term change and then back to square one again with mutual resentment added to the mess.

    It was suggested that I tell him he looked unprofessional and no one respected him. In other words I could shame him into behavior change. But again, behavior change is not what I was after. I actually wanted to help him figure out that he needed to be a true creative partner.

    So I chose to Be My Self. I asked him what was going on, and I listened. I asked him if he realized how he was presenting himself? How would he feel if he asked his team for something and they only presented what they thought was best, not what he asked for?

    Over the next few weeks, I shared real-time examples of how he was delivering or missing the mark. I spoke in respectful tone and used direct words. After six weeks of real-time feedback and straight talk about where things were headed, my head was screaming, "Move on!" My heart said, " Oh I really want this work out." My gut took these two pieces of data and spit out the solution. "Give it 2 more weeks so you know for sure you did all you could."

    Within days I saw that something clicked for him. He was carrying himself differently, he was a genuine partner in meetings, and I witnessed his colleagues giving him compliments on his new approach.

    To be clear, I don't take credit for his turnaround. He did it. Maybe he sought a therapist outside of work or a business coach or maybe some of my words helped. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I Owned My Power--I was clear, compassionate and committed to helping him shift from having a miserable experience at work to a fun and productive experience at work. And as a result, his colleagues experienced that positive shift as well.

    Feedback is as much about listening as it is about speaking. It is honoring the sensitivity of the creative sitting in front of us and showing, compassionately, where they are and where they need to go. Modeling this, living Compassionate Management, is the fastest path to turning around a counseling situation.

    Compassion is a powerful business tool disguised as a kumbaya group hug. It's deceptively simple to implement once you wrap your head around the fact that compassion is sorely needed and you can start immediately. No need for a degree, certification or belt. Just dive in.

    Interested in learning more about Compassionate Management? Join Rena and other industry leaders at "Beyond the Creative 3" in Chicago on October 9-10. Early Bird pricing ends August 9.