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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     22   Management style mediated the extent of this role, as the embracing personality of one creative director resulted in less division between departments. A good CD is “the glue between the departments” and his leadership had a profound impact on the agency— tremendous recent success, national attention and industry accolades (S3). This is consistent with findings that both perceptions of the leader and leader behaviors impact creative performance (Amabile et. al. 2004). Protector Creative directors viewed it as their job to “protect” creatives from outside threats that would interfere with their ability to be creative. As part of this role, they served as an intermediary between creatives and others. But another part of this role was to “clear out obstacles to good work” (CD L3). This could mean ensuring strategies were single-minded, championing good ideas, or protecting the time of the creative teams. Salesman The importance of creative directors “selling” the work both internally and to clients is paramount to creatives. This was noted as a key behavior differentiating success and failure in a creative leader (Amabile et al. 2004). “Selling” encompasses more than just presenting and championing the creative work to account management, upper management and clients, but is accomplished by numerous networking activities: building trust, discussions with account management and upper management to both obtain information and sell projects, conversations with clients. “You have to build a relationship with the client so you have mutual trust. You can push further. They’ll listen to you” (CD L3). “There’s an art to fighting for work and knowing when to fight or not—to pick your battles” (CD L3)

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
22  
 
Management style mediated the extent of this role, as the embracing personality of 
one creative director resulted in less division between departments. A good CD is “the glue 
between the departments” and his leadership had a profound impact on the agency—
tremendous recent success, national attention and industry accolades (S3). This is consistent 
with findings that both perceptions of the leader and leader behaviors impact creative 
performance (Amabile et. al.  2004). 
Protector 
 
Creative directors viewed it as their job to “protect” creatives from outside threats 
that would interfere with their ability to be creative. As part of this role, they served as an 
intermediary between creatives and others. But another part of this role was to “clear out 
obstacles to good work” (CD L3). This could mean ensuring strategies were single-minded, 
championing good ideas, or protecting the time of the creative teams.  
Salesman 
The importance of creative directors “selling” the work both internally and to clients 
is paramount to creatives. This was noted as a key behavior differentiating success and 
failure in a creative leader (Amabile et al. 2004). “Selling” encompasses more than just 
presenting and championing the creative work to account management, upper management 
and clients, but is accomplished by numerous networking activities: building trust, 
discussions with account management and upper management to both obtain information and 
sell projects, conversations with clients. “You have to build a relationship with the client so 
you have mutual trust. You can push further. They’ll listen to you” (CD L3).  “There’s an art 
to fighting for work and knowing when to fight or not—to pick your battles” (CD L3) 


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