Management styles

Creative business management is an acquired skill. Some of the basics can be gleaned from books – copyright laws, statutory obligations and company taxation etc. – but many of the most important skills, such as decision making, strategic planning, contract negotiation and client liaison can only be learned on the job. And that’s why there are as many creative management ‘types’ as there are creative managers. But let’s boil it down to just three:

The producer manager.

Think: music producer. Very often it’s someone who once played the creative role. They bring considerable experience and expertise to the job and often have specific ideas about how a project should be creatively directed as well as managed. The best of this bunch can enhance the creative activity of the people they are managing, suggesting the right people to work with, how to get a particular effect, putting forward new methods and encouraging experimentation. Producer managers get very involved in the creative process and thus are not always suited to working with creative people who have fixed ideas about their own work.

The hustler manager.

The hustler manager is focused on selling. They spend a lot of time developing contacts to benefit their business (and themselves). These people often succeed because of who they know, not what they know. They are usually found managing creative businesses which don’t always create the best work, but often seem to get a bite at the best jobs. Hustler managers give a creative direction based almost entirely on client demand and growth. While this may suit some creative people, many others will reject this style of management out of hand, refusing to modify their work to meet a perceived market.

The invisible manager.

The mark of an invisible manager can be detected when creatives feel that they did the work without any interference. These managers see their role as to foster an environment within which creatives can flourish in their own particular styles. Many creative people don’t want or need creative direction – they just want to get on with the job. But while they don’t want to feel ‘managed’, they do want the structure surrounding them taken care of. That’s where invisible management works best.

Then there are the seagull managers – but you don’t want to bother with them.

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