Many creatives want to rise up the ladder, but few understand the role of a creative manager beyond the perception of power and increased pay. It's important to help your team members understand what's expected and required--the good and the hard. Talking through what it means to be a manager with them will help you better assess and guide the appropriate associates towards this next step in their career. In addition, a better understanding of a creative manager's role will help associates self select out of a management track before they've committed to a role that may be out of synch with their career ambitions. Share this article with your team to help jump-start the conversation of what it means to be a manager within a creative environment.

"Rank does not confer privilege or give power.
It imposes responsibility."
- Peter Drucker

It's important to understand that being given the opportunity to manage is an invitation to show you're worthy of it. Before you dive in, let's look at what you'll need to do to succeed in this new role, and then you can decide if you want to go for it.

Creative Visionary and Communicator
You are now responsible for the vision and for leading with experienced creative insight--which is an incredibly exciting responsibility, but also incredibly different. You used to do it 100% of the time, now you're leading it. Your "work product" is far less tangible; it's the intangible that defines your success now. In the manager role your verbal skills become increasingly more important as your language must be clear, focused on the strategy instead of personal opinion. In addition, you must become tenacious in finding the right solution regardless of resistance--this means advocating for the business's needs, even when it might be in conflict with what the creative team proposes.

Changing Roles
You were their buddy, now you're their boss. This is one of the hardest transitions to go through--for both you and your former teammates. You are now a spokesperson for the Company. What you say will be perceived as a reflection of the values of the organization and your commitment to these values. You'll likely be in a position to disagree with, or even counsel, your former buddy. It comes down to being a respected leader and possibly fewer lunches (and definitely less happy hours) with the gang.

As a leader, you now must commit to putting a stake in the ground and driving the organization forward. And while it is easy to focus on the opportunity to make a positive difference and receive greater recognition for those efforts, your role also includes greater risk. Strong leadership is when you make a decision, clearly communicate the direction to the team and then have the maturity to own it--whether it goes well or not. Indecisive, vague management means inconsistent direction, which creates indifference, poor productivity and mediocre creativity.

Budget and Deadlines
Leading by example is the fastest way to success as a manager. When you stay within budget and meet deadlines, your team will follow and your clients will be clamoring for your help. Guide your team to design within budget and deadline and hold them, and yourself, accountable to this expectation consistently. You'll earn kudos and a great reputation, which can lead to a higher budget next year because the executives know they can trust you.

Managing Performance
Each individual's performance is a reflection of your ability to lead effectively. You are now responsible for setting goals, communicating expectations, giving frequent informal feedback (as well as formal performance reviews), coaching and showing how to improve performance. This means working with your former buddies on their professional development, which involves identifying their challenges and weaknesses, and holding them accountable to deliver on the goals that have been set.

Learning the motivations of the less eager employee and guiding him to improve his performance can bring great satisfaction. The sense of accomplishment when you've helped someone turn around his performance is a fabulous feeling, but a far different measure of success than in your role as a designer.

It's ok to make mistakes. We learn by example and by experience. Managing is a customized responsibility--each person needs to be managed according to her or his personality and it takes some trial and error to finesse this skill. The key to recovering from mistakes is owning up to them. We all want a leader who acknowledges her mistakes and then moves forward with openness and integrity.

More Longer-Term Projects and Less Thank Yous
Your to do list will never be finished; success cannot be measured by clearing off your desk each night. This is fantastic because it means you're helping people and doing the important intangible work.

You've graduated from Thank-ee to Thank-er. It's now your job to say thank you all the time and ensure your team feels valued and appreciated for their hard work. It's rare for a team member to thank you for being a great boss; they expect it and rightly so. How often have you told your boss she did a great job of delegating the workload or guiding you to improved performance? Exactly.

Now that you've read this primer, are you ready to go for it? Wonderful! You'll have a fancy title and salary increase, and maybe even increased vacation days and a bonus, along with a heck of a lot of responsibility. Move into this role with eyes wide open, a commitment to your team's success and a willingness to learn from your direct reports. And have fun!