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No need to name names, but plenty of legendary creative "leaders" have responded to their subordinate's work they deem inferior by literally throwing it back in their faces.

That's one way to go.

It just underscores the point that brilliant minds and inspiring leadership can indeed be mutually exclusive. Just as star players don't always turn out to be the best coaches, or many of the most talented pianists couldn't teach C Major to a ten year old, elevated creative professionals don't always know how to nurture talent and instead can do some real damage.

Ideas are fragile. And when a young designer, for instance, shows up at the creative leader's door to share, how that leader responds to the design ideas won't just affect the project on the table, it will have a long-term affect on the designer's psyche and output downstream.

The insightful leader must first honor their responsibility to support the ideas that follow the brief and meet the clients' goals, but given feedback is indeed a gift, how that gift is shared makes the difference between that designer showing up with even stronger work next time, or perhaps retreating into a less confident version of him/herself.

A leader's abilities in this area, to be part camp counselor, part psychologist, part clear-eyed process manager who sets and holds people to deadlines, but always a cheerleader, cannot be understated. And how to tell someone that work is off the mark is as important as the high five when it's right.

There will always be both those creative souls who are so prolific that their bad ideas will be followed by a dozen more great ideas, but also those whose big ideas are so infrequent that a fortress is built around in each one and re-directing them becomes a special challenge. But either way, no matter how elevated the creative leader's talent, no matter what the title is on the door, being at once firm but supportive, remembering that someone sharing an idea is someone being vulnerable, that's where the real talent comes to play.

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