Creative, motivated people can still struggle to work together as a team. Pixar’s Co-Founder, Ed Catmull has identified four rules leaders must implement to establish a culture that fosters innovation and productivity:
- Balance leadership and chaos. Innovation is inherently messy, and leading a creative team involves a balance between control and providing total freedom. Rather than trying to prevent a mess, just try to make sure it doesn't get too messy.
- Restart things that don’t work. Even though restarting a project is costly and painful, sometimes it’s necessary. It’s easy to make a B-level film, but it takes going through a process multiple times to make an A-level film.
- Take risks, and make it okay to fail. “People don’t want to fail. They put a greater burden on themselves than we intend to put on them,” says Catmull. “We have to try extra hard to make it safe to fail.”
- Embed company values in every level of the organization. Leaders must promote a safe and enjoyable environment for people. Creative ideas stem from collaboration, not control, so people must feel they have the liberty to have fun at work.
Takeaway: Counterintuitively, strong leadership often means giving up control. To get the best results from your team, focus on creating an environment where people feel empowered to take risks.