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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     27   direction for the creative team. Further, the creative director guides creative teams in his/her role as creative judge/critic and offers advice on how to improve creative efforts. The final role of the creative director found through this research is the role of culture builder. In this role, the creative director sets the tone for the culture of the creative department. Thus, the creative director influences how many creative risks will be taken, whether the culture is playful or serious, and whether the hours are flexible or rigid. This relates to transformational leadership, since a component of charisma is providing a “vision and sense of mission” (Bass 1990, p. 22). The findings of this study suggest that great creative directors are transformational leaders (Bass 1990). They lead by example, they have charisma, they inspire and they intellectually stimulate. Transformational leadership styles have been associated with increased creativity in past research (Jung 2001; Sosik, Kahai & Avolio 1998), so it is no surprise that the features of the style are found to be desirable for the role of creative director. The job of advertising creative director is a complex one, defined by numerous functions calling for managerial skills and leadership ability in addition to creative talent. Creative director positions tend to be awarded based on cultural capital such as winning accounts, winning industry creative awards and good personal publicity (Alvesson 1994). Considering the disconnect between the skills required of a working creative and the skills needed by a creative leader, a fundamental flaw in the system may need correction. CONCLUSION Creative leadership is among the critical needs of the 21 st century, especially in an industry like advertising where success at every level rides on creativity above all else.

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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THE  CAT  HERDER  
 
27  
direction for the creative team. Further, the creative director guides creative teams in his/her 
role as creative judge/critic and offers advice on how to improve creative efforts. 
 
 The final role of the creative director found through this research is the role of 
culture builder. In this role, the creative director sets the tone for the culture of the creative 
department. Thus, the creative director influences how many creative risks will be taken, 
whether the culture is playful or serious, and whether the hours are flexible or rigid. This 
relates to transformational leadership, since a component of charisma is providing a “vision 
and sense of mission” (Bass 1990, p. 22).  The findings of this study suggest that great 
creative directors are transformational leaders (Bass 1990). They lead by example, they have 
charisma, they inspire and they intellectually stimulate. Transformational leadership styles 
have been associated with increased creativity in past research (Jung 2001; Sosik, Kahai & 
Avolio 1998), so it is no surprise that the features of the style are found to be desirable for the 
role of creative director. 
The job of advertising creative director is a complex one, defined by numerous 
functions calling for managerial skills and leadership ability in addition to creative talent. 
Creative director positions tend to be awarded based on cultural capital such as winning 
accounts, winning industry creative awards and good personal publicity (Alvesson 1994).  
Considering the disconnect between the skills required of a working creative and the skills 
needed by a creative leader, a fundamental flaw in the system may need correction. 
 
CONCLUSION 
 
Creative leadership is among the critical needs of the 21
st
 century, especially in an 
industry like advertising where success at every level rides on creativity above all else.  


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