Take me to your leader

Take me to your leader


Does anyone other than you need to be involved in decision making?

If you work with us, you’ll hear that question often. If the decision maker isn’t at the table, we can reschedule. It’s not out of ego that we demand an audience with the Big Cheese. Rather, we know our process can only work with the active engagement of the person who will ultimately approve a creative project.

Sometimes the decision maker is at the top of your leadership ladder. Sometimes it’s a marketing director. Sometimes the role shifts back and forth.

In our experience, there are three types of leaders when it comes to making decisions on creative projects. It can be helpful to assess your organization’s leadership structure and determine what level of engagement you need and from whom.

The hands-on higher-up

The hands-on higher-up is actively involved in most creative projects. They drive the process and make their thoughts clearly known. The smaller and younger your company is, the more likely you are to have this type of decision maker. If the CEO is your company’s founder and/or chief technologist, dollars to donuts, they’re a hands-on higher-up.

The creative process works well in this environment. The client-side and agency-side teams collaborate to give the decision maker strong options to choose from. Scope, goals and direction are clear. Revisions are minimal and the project happens efficiently and on-budget.

The hands-off delegator

The hands-off delegator has chosen to empower another member of the team to make decisions on creative projects. The larger and more established your company is, the more likely you are to employ this leadership structure.

We have clients with multiple levels of leadership above them who we’ve never met. That’s perfectly fine. Their leaders trust them to get it done. With a qualified team empowered to drive the process and a good agency-client fit, projects go smoothly, on-time and on-budget.

The switch-hitter

The switch-hitter seems to delegate decision making to others on their team, but then gets involved late in the game after consensus has been built and several rounds of approval have been secured. This type of leader can most often be found in mid-size and growing companies, where workload necessitates some delegation, but roles and responsibilities are still in flux.

The switch-hitter is neither as available as the creative team needs to be successful nor able to trust their team to get it done right. It’s a lose-lose scenario that leads to cost overruns and cuts the client-side team off at the knees.

Switch-hitters often present themselves as hands-off delegators. But if you have your suspicions, look to engage them early in the process. They can always tap out somewhere along the way and trust you to bring it home.

It’s much easier (and less expensive) for a leader to tap out mid-process than to get involved late in the game. 

Take the lead

Whether you work with Toolbox or another creative agency, the process will go more smoothly with a clear decision maker. When you know where the buck stops, you’ll get the best bang for your marketing bucks.

About Tom Campbell:

Tom is Toolbox’s co-founder and creative director. When he’s not rockin’ the Box, Tom can be found daydreaming about when he can return to his beer league hockey team or playing drums for local bar bands. He’s also a founder and fairy godfather of Art Lab Fort Collins and keeper of TomLovesTheLibertyBell.com, a quirky repository of stories and stats on Liberty Bell replicas around the world.

About Toolbox Creative:

Toolbox Creative is a creative agency for technology companies, helping innovators assess their brand equity, clarify their positioning and amplify their voices — creating lasting impact and building brand love.