You’re not just an entrepreneur and a creative power house any more: you’re a manager too. You didn’t sign up for this!
You’re surrounded by a bunch of people; people you were smart enough to employ. But although they all looked good when they worked for someone else, a few of them have dropped off a bit. What’s worse is you seem to be spending more and more of your precious time dealing with petty little beefs. You wish they’d get a grip. You’ve played hard ball, you’ve been chummy, you’ve ignored the little things but they keep popping up when you’ve got a pitch to polish off. Now some of the really talented ones have told you they’re going – some to the competition up the road, others to the bright lights of… well where-ever they think the bright lights are.
There are all sorts of reasons why this happens. One of the most common is what you might call hospital manager syndrome. Everyone seems to hate it when a rising star from Tesco becomes CEO at a local hospital. What could they possibly know about running a hospital? It’s a moot point because ask a doctor to take on more administrative responsibility, or hang up the stethoscope forever and you see the problem. They didn’t spend all those years cutting up cadavers and dodging the vomit on a night shift in A&E to sit across a boardroom table for three hours with the head of human resources. They didn’t do all that training to spend a week and a half writing annual appraisals.
The same problem is killing some of our most creative businesses. Creative entrepreneurial square pegs are having to squeeze themselves into management shaped circular holes.
It’s a pity so few realise the dichotomy is a false one. Managing is the undercarriage that supports confident creative leadership. Leadership is the where you leverage your creativity and multiply it by as many people you can inspire to be at their best. There is still a serious bit of graft involved to keep everyone as enthusiastic as when they came for that interview when you took a leap of faith and hired them, but when it starts to work, the talent comes knocking on YOUR door and everyone in your studio or office loves Monday morning.
Am I exaggerating a bit? Perhaps. But not much.