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Lessons From Leaders on How to Have Creative Bravery

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With a mission to accelerate gender equality in advertising and communications, it’s no surprise that WACL, a club for senior female industry leaders, chose the fitting topic of ‘creative bravery’ for its first-ever Manchester gathering.

We were fortunate to hear from a panel of exceptional leaders alongside contributions from the room of women in attendance. I will certainly use the lessons learnt today to improve how I lead and to make an even greater impact through my work, here are my top take-aways:

Creative bravery is about being able to push boundaries and take risks to create something new, make an impact or change for the better.  Often it can be hard to recognise the things you do that push the dial in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that even small acts of creative courage can make a big impact!

Thanks to Sam Gregory from Tangerine who reminded us that sometimes the most important thing to do is to keep it simple. Creativity should never exist for the sake of it. If you have a message to communicate, the most important thing is that your audience gets your message, simplicity can be the bravest thing of all.

Jane Callingham from BBC Brand emphasised the importance of a plan and ultimate objectives. If everyone knows the direction of travel and is clear about what success looks like then creative bravery can propel you in the right direction but without objectives, the effort will veer off track before long.

Key characteristics of a person who leads with creative bravery include being open to new ideas, being willing to take risks, and being unafraid to fail. As leaders, it’s important to create a culture where people are supported, listened to and encouraged to push outside of their comfort zone.

We were reminded by Karen Blackett OBE from WPP and Group M to check our circle. Are you playing your ideas back and seeking advice from people who will bring different perspectives? If you’re only checking in with people who share your background and experiences then the chances are you’re missing out on the vital insight and an alternative lens for viewing challenges, ideas and solutions.

It was exciting to hear the views of the panel that advertising is becoming more authentic in its approach.  Examples were shared of campaigns that took a purpose-first approach and proved to have the greatest impact. Take a look at these two campaign highlights that do just that from Tesco and Cadburys.

It’s clear that we need creative bravery to remain progressive in our work, so how do we make sure that we’re attracting the talent we need? For Karen Blackett OBE the solution is simple; “advertisers need to get better at advertising careers in our industry.” I couldn’t agree more! We’ll be taking this advice on board over the coming weeks to focus our content on the incredible and diverse creative and digital industry career opportunities. Only when we shine a light on the opportunities that exist, can we connect these opportunities to our local, untapped talent.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the discussion! I’m looking forward to demonstrating my creative bravery more as a result!