Returning for a third year as chair and course curator, Warren Brown says there’s a lot to love about the Creative Leadership course. So, what is the most rewarding part of delivering the course? What’s the essential quality all creative directors need to possess? And, what does it take to stay creatively fit? Find out in this exclusive interview with the man himself.

TCC: How do you keep yourself creatively fit?
WB: Trying to keep yourself creatively fit is really important and it’s not that difficult. The best way is probably to always be dissatisfied with whatever you do, and remain constantly curious about how you could do things better. I think that’s just basically keeping your eyes, ears and all your senses open to new influences.

Don’t go into any sort of situation with preconceived ideas of how you might feel or what you might expect. I think try to keep yourself as much of a blank canvas as possible, and also be a bit of a sponge. Then basically you’re always going to fill up your creative tanks, and then you’ve got creative firepower to burn. But if you don’t keep topping up those tanks, you’ll run dry, and end up frustrated and dull.

TCC: How do you get the best out of people around you?
WB: For me, the best way is to have absolute confidence in their ability, and don’t undermine that by doing their job for them. You try to empower them as much as possible. But they have to go on this sort of voyage of discovery themselves. I think that the ‘gentle hand’ is much better than trying to sledge hammer them into a solution, which ultimately might work, but it is a short term approach. Remember, the more you give away the more you get back.

TCC: The creative leadership course is now in its 3rd year – what has been the most rewarding part for you?
WB: The most rewarding part about this course for me is that it has made me realise that I wish had the opportunity to do this course when I was younger. And a lot of the co-chairs feel in a similar way.

What’s been fantastic to see is that statistically about 50 per cent of students have been promoted within 12 months of having done the course, so that’s a great reward. But I think the best thing I heard out of the previous two courses is having one of the students on the course saying, “I think I’ve just been handed the keys to the kingdom”. So for me it’s an enlightening and illuminating course that makes it quite clear of what’s expected of creatives and what they need to do in order to step up. And having clarity around that ambition, if you like, is wonderfully helpful; otherwise people lose their way too easily.  

TCC: One of the essential qualities of a great CD is having confidence  – what do you say to aspiring leaders who are afraid to make the leap?
WB: Creative leadership is all about having confidence in your own ability, and you should never be afraid to be true to yourself.

Most people try and make for a perfect sort of timing, or situation, or environment before they actually commit to making a decision. But, there’s nothing worse than failing because you actually didn’t play your own game and you weren’t confident in your own ability and approach.

Creative leadership is about maintaining momentum, and the way you maintain momentum is to basically make decisions. To do that you have to be confident.

TCC: What can students expect from the course this year?
WB: For the students that are doing the course this year I would implore you that you absolutely make the most out of the lessons and the tutorials. We’ve assembled an absolutely fantastic creme de la creme crop of creative talent and business talent to inform you, educate you and inspire you to become a wonderful creative leader.

So I hope that you’re fully engaged and those who are fully engaged will get an absolute great bang for buck. The course is a definite springboard to a dramatic change in your fortunes – not only in your ability to be a creative leader, but also getting the opportunity to work with even more senior people and really understand what goes on in our business.