Behance recently spoke with the Creative Director of a leading agency, who sees his leadership role as that of the problem framer. When a new project kicks off, his goal is to articulate the thrust of the problem to his team, to inspire them about possible solutions, and then to delegate the true work of uncovering the final answer to the appropriate team members.
As he puts it, “I try to frame what the problem is. I try to frame what the territories are. What we should be looking for.” Once the problem is framed, he says, “Other members of my team will help craft it… and build it.”
We often think of leaders as visionary problem solvers, yet to be a successful manager the ability to be a visionary problem framer is extremely important. The reason is scalability. If the leader is solving the problems, only so many problems can get solved. Yet, if he/she has the ability to articulate the problem to team members – thus putting the problem solving power in their hands – scalability expands exponentially.
Along similar lines, Paul Budnitz, founder of uber-hip retail chain Kid Robot, counsels the effectiveness of aggressive delegation. Budnitz explains, “Personally, I do everything I can to give away as much work as I can to someone else. If I don't have anything to do, and everything seems to get done anyway, then I know I'm being effective… I see my role as guiding collaboration. It's up to me to know what's good, what isn't, and who to ask to work on what.”
The side benefit of this type of macro-management – as opposed to niggling micro-management – is that your team will feel more ownership and engagement with the project than if they were just executing your already-fully-laid-out vision step by step.
***This post by J.K. Glei is based on research by the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.