Being a creative leader is an exhilarating role that requires the delicate balance of fostering collaboration while setting boundaries. But let’s be honest, communicating boundaries can be tricky. No one wants to come across as inflexible or stifle the creative flow. – IniOluwa Faith Abiodun
In this article we delve into the hearts and minds of four remarkable creative leaders – Brenda Okorogba, Tyllah-Chanel Cornelio, IniOluwa Faith-Abiodun, Noella Ekezie – on setting healthy boundaries with team members. These creative women have defied convention and redefined the very essence of success.
One question we asked them is ;
How can creative leaders effectively communicate their boundaries to their team members and colleagues, without coming across as inflexible?
Creative leaders may effectively express their boundaries by openly sharing expectations, establishing clear standards, and promoting open debate. In any organisation, it’s critical to emphasise the importance of self-care while being flexible and open to collaboration. A workplace culture that supports open discussion helps creative professionals to voice their expectations, concerns, and boundaries without fear of judgement or a reprisal.
Those in leadership positions should foster an environment in which team members feel comfortable sharing their workload, stress levels, and personal challenges. Cultivating a culture that empowers creative professionals to have control over their work with autonomy in decision-making, and allowing them to have a say in their projects and schedules can promote a sense of ownership and reduce stress – Brenda Okorogba
Designer and Illustrator, IniOluwa Faith Abiodun further breaks down some practical steps she believes will help you set healthy boundaries and not seem unreasonable.
Truly care about yourself. Look first to how you structure your life and deal with the pressures of creative work. Be relentless in bringing what you need to show up as your best self. Find what works for you and prioritize doing it as much as you need to. Put the things you need to do for yourself in your calendar as you would a work meeting. Build your personal trust in yourself, show up for yourself, and become centered in your day-to-day life. When you take care of you, you learn what your boundaries are and it becomes easier to show up the right way for your colleagues.
Build relationships that matter. As creative leaders, we know the magic of storytelling. So why not use this superpower to communicate boundaries? Do not simply state your limitations, intentionally build relationships that make communicating boundaries easier. Rather than dictating rules, take the time to explain the reasoning behind your boundaries. Share your experiences or provide examples of how boundaries have positively impacted projects in the past. By articulating the underlying purpose, you help your team members see the value of these boundaries and how they contribute to overall success. When people understand the why, they are more likely to respect and embrace the boundaries you set.
Set open dialogue. Boundaries shouldn’t be one-sided impositions. Create safe spaces for your team and colleagues to express their concerns, share their ideas, and suggest alternative approaches that might work better for them. Actively listen to their perspectives, and be open to adjusting your boundaries when necessary. By involving your team in the boundary-setting process, you cultivate a sense of ownership and mutual respect.
Be Firm, Yet Flexible. Effective boundary-setting requires striking the right balance between firmness and flexibility. You can be assertive in communicating your boundaries while also being open to negotiation. Remember, flexibility does not equate to being a pushover. Stand your ground on non-negotiables, but be willing to explore alternative solutions for areas where compromise is possible. This approach demonstrates your willingness to find common ground and promotes a collaborative atmosphere.
Lead by Example. As a creative leader, your actions speak louder than words. Be open to feedback and discussion. Encourage team members to ask questions and provide input on the boundaries, and be willing to adjust them if necessary. Avoid overworking yourself or taking on unrealistic expectations. When team members witness your commitment to self-care and work-life balance, they will be more likely to follow suit and respect the boundaries you’ve established.
Tyllah-Chanel Cornelio, founder of Touched By Ty Creative Agency also sheds more light on this topic
Creative leaders have to be okay with accepting that they can be fair & understanding, but they can’t be nice or too friendly. Once they accept this, it becomes natural to set the tone and establish boundaries from the beginning. This means setting the tone for expectations on punctuality, projects, deadlines and consequences for not following through and implementing systems that uphold these boundaries. These are not things that can be randomly thrown at employees after you’ve allowed them to do whatever they’d like for months. You have to establish everything professional relationship on a solid foundation and keen understanding of what you will and absolutely will not accept – from anyway. And while your boundaries are necessary, you must also remain open minded to the suggestions of your team. If their suggestions can increase efficiency, team morale or revenue, they’re worth readdressing your boundaries for from time to time. – Tyllah-Chanel Cornelio
Noella Ekezie, award-winning design and marketing leader and Creative Director at marketing agncy, Ellae speaks on how communicating expectations with clarity works like magic.
Clear communication of expectations is vital. I ensure that my team and stakeholders understand realistic deadlines and boundaries for projects, even when time is limited. I believe in under promising and over delivering to create exceptional client experiences. This clarity helps me prevent burnout and fosters a healthier work environment.
Establishing boundaries with technology is also crucial. It’s easy for technology to blur the lines between work and personal life. I set specific times to disconnect from work emails and notifications, allowing dedicated periods of rest and relaxation. Although it can be challenging as I have clients in different time zones, creating boundaries with technology helps me separate work and personal time more effectively. – Noella Ekezie
Creatives more often than not wear many hats. Taking up the role of leadership as a creative already puts you at an advantage, however, it would require more input from you than others. Designer and Illustrator IniOluwa Faith Abiodun explains this;
Setting boundaries as a creative leader is an art that requires finesse, empathy, and effective communication. By embracing the power of storytelling, explaining the “why” behind boundaries, fostering open dialogue, being firm yet flexible, and leading by example, you can effectively communicate your boundaries without coming across as inflexible. –IniOluwa Faith Abiodun
These concluding words from Inioluwa Abiodun to creative leaders remind us that boundaries are not roadblocks; they are guideposts that lead to greater creativity, collaboration, and success. So go forth, dear leaders, and set those boundaries with grace and charm!
Brenda Okorogba is a service and learning experience designer, network weaver, and a training facilitator, who has been actively involved in promoting work-life harmony, collective prosperity, economic dignity, and mental health across industries. With a background in Psychology and a passion for empowering teams, Brenda strives to create environments that nurture both creativity and optimal. Brenda has coached diverse students and professionals on college and career readiness, resulting in $80.4M in college funding and successful career paths.
Tyllah-Chanel Cornelio, AKA The Marketing Bully and founder of Touched By Ty Creative Agency is an East Texas native passionate about digital marketing. To date, Tyllah-Chanel has received several certifications in digital marketing and self published 7 books and 4 planners. She’s helped to develop countless business owners into thriving professionals & equipping then with the tools to build businesses and teams that allow them to feel empowered.
Noella Ekezie is an award-winning design and marketing leader with 12+ years of professional experience. Founder & Creative Director at Ellae, an integrated creative, brand, digital, and marketing communications agency in Lagos, Nigeria. At Ellae, her design & strategic marketing expertise has seen her execute projects for both Fortune 500 companies and challenger brands including organizations such as the USAID, UNDP, AARP, BASF Germany, the Nike Foundation, Google Inc, Exxon Mobil, Citi Bank, Cognizant, and many others. Recently recognized as one of Nigeria’s Most Inspirational Women by The Guardian, Noella has succeeded in building a leading integrated
agency with a world-class standard where she applies a strategic approach involving in-depth research and insight analysis, and idea conceptualization in creating solutions to clients’ needs.