June 3, 2024

5 creative-leadership lessons with Todd Henry

Ashley Walters

Chief Development Officer, Partner

You can’t make everyone happy, and that’s ok. It’s called courageous leadership and we all need it. 

One of many things you must do as a leader is be willing to take risks and make decisions that don’t always win you the “most popular” vote. As a courageous leader, Todd suggests weighing the pros and cons of each decision based on what you believe is best for your organization because you can’t always go with what will please everyone. Why? That type of decision-making will not push your team’s capabilities to reach new heights. But doesn’t that create conflict? It could, and you should welcome it. Todd tells us that conflict is a sign of a healthy organization. A lack of conflict could be a sign of low accountability.

Imposter syndrome is real and you can combat it.

Do you ever look at another leader and think, they have it all figured out? Well, it turns out many of us feel like we are in over our heads from time to time. Todd boils down imposter syndrome to the belief that you are overmatched or you will be “found out.”

These feelings of inadequacy can be detrimental to careers. So how do you overcome it? Todd argues, by being self-aware. There’s a distinct difference between the two, and the most courageous leaders practice self-awareness. By knowing your strengths you can reassure yourself on why you’re there. And by recognizing your opportunity areas, you can be vulnerable enough to ask questions and gain the clarity you need to contribute. 

Stability and challenge are what drive effective creative teams. 

According to Todd Henry, there are two things that creatives need from their leaders: stability and challenge. By stability, Todd means clarity of the process and relationship. As a leader, you should set guidelines and expectations for your team. Do not restrict or restrain their creativity, but give them direction from these parameters. Do not rule, support. 

The key is to find a healthy balance between giving creatives boundaries and autonomy. Todd uses the phrase “bounded autonomy” – in other words, freedom within limits. Be careful not to give too much freedom or structure as that will either cause people to feel overly challenged or undersupported.

Your morning routine is a vessel for space. You decide how to fill it. 

Todd has a robust morning routine. With most of his days being packed, he uses his mornings as space to think. He tells us that he gets up earlier than he’d prefer to carve enough time for himself. During his mornings, he spends an hour studying the latest from people who inspire him and he journals about the ideas that strike him. The morning is Todd’s time for reflection. It's when he can let his mind wander. These morning practices help stimulate his creativity and create space to crystallize new ideas.

The future and the present belong to the curious.

Those who are in advertising know how important it is to ask great questions. Great questions lead you to breakthrough insights that grab people’s attention. It’s the foundation of our culture at Curiosity. 

In a world where information and messages are abundant, separating your content from the BS is difficult. So how do you cut through the noise and produce something profound? Todd Henry suggests it’s by asking questions that move the conversation. Those who search for questions to confirm what they already believe, don’t get far in the long run. It is those with a genuine curiosity who find the most meaningful answers. And that’s where differentiation lies.

You're in! No secret handshake required.
Oops! Something went wrong.

Feel that? That’s curiosity.

Let’s solve something together.