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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     9   The agency creative department is a unique culture within the organization of an advertising agency (Nixon 2003) with its own codes (Stuhlfaut 2011) and collectively shared ideas (Alvesson 1994). Creative people are different from others in significant ways, such as personality traits (Townley et al. 2009; Gelade 1997) and demonstrating greater motivation from intrinsic rewards (Mumford 2000; Amabile 1983, 1997, 1998). Accordingly, the function and management of a creative department is an entity quite unto itself, and represents an appropriate level of leadership study. Organization theory further supports the notion that the language and discourse involved in the interaction between the creative director and the creatives under them will contribute to the creative climate and their ability to perform their jobs (Deetz 1992; Knights & Willmott 1989; Shotter & Gergen 1989 in Alvesson 1994). How does the literature define the role of a creative leader? Essentially the role is to create an environment in which “clever people” can thrive. And yet, “if clever people have one defining characteristic, it is that they do not want to be led” (Goffee & Jones 2007, p. 74). This conundrum is overcome by effective leadership. The research suggests creative leaders should have expertise and creativity, which are needed to help define ill-defined problems (Andrews & Farris 1967). Further, because creative leaders must evaluate the ideas of creative people (Mumford, Marks, Connelly, Zaccaro & Reiter-Palmon 2000), they need creativity and expertise in the area in order to evaluate and provide constructive feedback (Mumford et al. 2002). Transformational leadership is another component of being an effective leader (Bass 1990). Transformational leaders are charismatic and they inspire and intellectually stimulate employees. They are considerate of the individual needs of employees (Bass 1990).

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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The agency creative department is a unique culture within the organization of an 
advertising agency (Nixon 2003) with its own codes (Stuhlfaut 2011) and collectively shared 
ideas (Alvesson 1994). Creative people are different from others in significant ways, such as 
personality traits (Townley et al. 2009; Gelade 1997) and demonstrating greater motivation 
from intrinsic rewards (Mumford 2000; Amabile 1983, 1997, 1998).    
Accordingly, the function and management of a creative department is an entity quite 
unto itself, and represents an appropriate level of leadership study. Organization theory 
further supports the notion that the language and discourse involved in the interaction 
between the creative director and the creatives under them will contribute to the creative 
climate and their ability to perform their jobs (Deetz 1992; Knights & Willmott 1989; Shotter 
& Gergen 1989 in Alvesson 1994).   
How does the literature define the role of a creative leader?  Essentially the role is to 
create an environment in which “clever people” can thrive. And yet, “if clever people have 
one defining characteristic, it is that they do not want to be led” (Goffee & Jones 2007, p. 
74). This conundrum is overcome by effective leadership.  
The research suggests creative leaders should have expertise and creativity, which are 
needed to help define ill-defined problems (Andrews & Farris 1967). Further, because 
creative leaders must evaluate the ideas of creative people (Mumford, Marks, Connelly, 
Zaccaro & Reiter-Palmon 2000), they need creativity and expertise in the area in order to 
evaluate and provide constructive feedback (Mumford et al. 2002). Transformational 
leadership is another component of being an effective leader (Bass 1990). Transformational 
leaders are charismatic and they inspire and intellectually stimulate employees. They are 
considerate of the individual needs of employees (Bass 1990).  

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