Herding Tigers: Master the Transition from Maker to Manager

Herding Tigers: Master the Transition from Maker to Manager

A practical handbook for every new manager charged with leading teams to creative brilliance, from the author of The Accidental Creative and Die Empty. New managers in creative fields got the job because they were good at being makers--and learned to strategize their time, relationships, and mindset to produce the best creative work possible on their own. But when they're put/>...

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Title:Herding Tigers: Master the Transition from Maker to Manager
Author:Todd Henry
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Herding Tigers: Master the Transition from Maker to Manager Reviews

  • Charmin

    Highlights:

    1. Leading is about more than just hitting your objectives; it’s about helping your team discover, develop, and unleash its unique form of brilliance. Release the creative potential in others.

    2. Stability & Challenge: Creative people want boundaries. Clarity & Protection: Clear about expectations early in the process. Clarity allows team members to have the mental bandwidth to do their job with excellence. Protect the team by going to bat for them. Most fertile time is at th

    Highlights:

    1. Leading is about more than just hitting your objectives; it’s about helping your team discover, develop, and unleash its unique form of brilliance. Release the creative potential in others.

    2. Stability & Challenge: Creative people want boundaries. Clarity & Protection: Clear about expectations early in the process. Clarity allows team members to have the mental bandwidth to do their job with excellence. Protect the team by going to bat for them. Most fertile time is at the beginning. Demand calculated risk. To experience full freedom, your team needs clear boundaries. Cement your faith in your team by establishing expectations, clearing the path, and then getting out of its way. “Bounded Autonomy”. Range: Angry-Lost-Stuck-Thriving.

    3. If not explicitly spelled out, your team’s attention might drift to whatever shiny object comes along. You should dedicate time on a weekly basis to pruning your priorities. Tie what the team is doing to why it is important. Help them understand the bigger pattern.

    4. Your Role: define those problems clearly and ensure clear accountability for solving them. Your objective is to teach how to think about the work, not what to think about it. When you lead by influence, you multiply your efforts and reproduce your values in their lives of others.

    5. Once you are in a position of authority, people will treat you differently, whether consciously or not. Speak truth to people in a way they can hear it. The best creative leaders are freedom fighters. Creative work requires protected time. Set specific time blocks. Have a frank and concrete discussion with the team and with your own manager about which balls you’re willing to let drop. Prune aggressively.

    6. A coach sets the stage and helps you arrive at the answer yourself. Helping people come to their own conclusions, with perspective and guidance from you. When they fail, postmortem. Biggest coaching opportunities. Have group “why chats” about big decisions. Be vulnerable enough to invite team members into the decision-making process in order to help you.

    7. Builders – figure things out as they go. Fixers – feel needed to fix a specific problem. Optimizers – make meetings more efficient, workflow more productive, and more focused.

    8. Clearly communicate the consequences of decisions to the stake-holders. Never surprise people who have the ability to over-ride your decisions. Remind them of why the decision was made and why it’s still the right one. Expectation escalation can suffocate your team and prevent it from performing at its best. Assess the “why” behind the request. They don’t understand the implications to the team’s focus and energy. Protect your team from the tyranny of the inbox. Nobody should come to the meeting unprepared. Who will do what by when. Don’t set a recurring commitment on the calendar unless it meets all of the criteria of having a specific imminent outcome.

    9. If you overlook minor missed deadlines, it makes it harder to impose urgency later, over more important ones. Dysfunctional cultures often begin with a series of seemingly insignificant choices to normalize mediocrity, and those minor choices have major ramifications down the road. Make sure you are effectively incentivizing people to engage in the kinds of behavior you want.

    10. Creative people are always looking for a problem to solve. They are wired to look for ways to contribute value, and if not given clear direction, they might squander their valuable focus creating wonderful solutions to peripheral problems. Make individuals accountable for specific solutions by defined deadlines. A lack of finality in conversations kills focus. Keep the scoreboard in front of them so that they know what you are measuring.

  • Arturo Hernández

    This book is a must for anyone attempting to manage creative teams (understanding “creative” as anyone who has to create things, processes, projects, etc. in order to provide value to an organization)

    It functions as an introductory manual for the role and a good lecture to remind yourself about needed rituals to lead a team for the path of happiness.

    I found this book because of Todd’s podcast (which is also a must 👌🏻).

  • Jim

    Todd Henry does an excellent job in his presentation of how to lead creatives well. Hearding Tigers is an easy but to the point read. This book should be a must read for leaders in creative organizations to aid or improve their leadership skills. Additionally, the book provides rituals that could be added to their processes.

  • Joshua Bowen

    I initially thought this book was pretty basic in leadership lessons depth and value. However, I found myself highlighting more and more in this book, quoting this book in conversation and social media, and thinking about what I read more than planned. Naturally, I came to find how awesome this book really is. I highly recommend this read. It covers a lot of different topics; there are books solely dedicated to singular chapters from this one, so you get a great variety. I enjoyed this read and

    I initially thought this book was pretty basic in leadership lessons depth and value. However, I found myself highlighting more and more in this book, quoting this book in conversation and social media, and thinking about what I read more than planned. Naturally, I came to find how awesome this book really is. I highly recommend this read. It covers a lot of different topics; there are books solely dedicated to singular chapters from this one, so you get a great variety. I enjoyed this read and think many others will too.

  • Lorraine Jack

    This book is ideal for those who struggle to find their own inspiration/motivation in industries where having to perform consistently at 100% is required, in addition to the added pressure to lead a team to do the same. Full of ah-ha moments, you'll end up re-reading and underlining tons of great words of wisdom.

  • Joshua Key

    I've needed this book for a long time.

    Keeping a creative team going is a balancing act... if you are too rigid, people rebel or become resentful because their creative freedom is too restricted... if you are too flexible, then everyone loses focus and nothing gets done. It's literally too opposing functions of the brain (creative vs analytical) at odds with eachother played out in a group scenario. There's a sweet spot between the two, a lose grip... he argues that indeed it's not ea

    I've needed this book for a long time.

    Keeping a creative team going is a balancing act... if you are too rigid, people rebel or become resentful because their creative freedom is too restricted... if you are too flexible, then everyone loses focus and nothing gets done. It's literally too opposing functions of the brain (creative vs analytical) at odds with eachother played out in a group scenario. There's a sweet spot between the two, a lose grip... he argues that indeed it's not easy to find that sweet spot, but when you do magic happens.

  • Alexandre

    This is a short and handy manual for any leader (or anyone aspiring to become one), whether creative or not. I truly appreciated the mix of no-nonsense advice threaded with a moral and principled approach to leadership. I have taken many notes and will no doubt refer to this book in the future to better chart my own leadership journey.

  • Scott

    Having read all of Todd Henry's books, this one was a tad underwhelming. I love the message, but this one is so niche that I didn't get much from it. How many people are designers who get promoted to be managers? It's a small slice of humanity... I get how to manage designers, so there wasn't much to glean here. :/

  • Candy Hamblin

    First of all I must express an appreciation for a leader who is willing to step back and become a study for the ways of his minions. This kind of leadership is in and of itself, rare, which means that if you are a leader and have picked up this book, then you are already a good leader just by the nature of your own quest to be better at it.

    And while the author is well versed in the needs of the creative worker, being one himself, my argument is that the delivery of said message is in

    First of all I must express an appreciation for a leader who is willing to step back and become a study for the ways of his minions. This kind of leadership is in and of itself, rare, which means that if you are a leader and have picked up this book, then you are already a good leader just by the nature of your own quest to be better at it.

    And while the author is well versed in the needs of the creative worker, being one himself, my argument is that the delivery of said message is ineffective. Other books where he delivers insights on being an effective creative are spot-on, but his insights into leadership need further development in the areas I mention here ...

    First off, if you are the “tiger” reading this book then you will probably feel more like a specimen than a valued colleague. The title reflects a very subtle attitude problem which threads its way through this book that will go unnoticed if you aren’t careful. There is a “zoo” mentality here that can be insulting to the “tigers” - a strong thematic dichotomy that suggests tigers cannot be trusted to speak for themselves about what they need. Seems like a lot of work went into the scientific study of the non-conformists, when much of this overhead could have been mitigated by asking several of the village oddballs how they roll. You will get the truth ... but the caveat in the dichotomy I’m speaking of is that the truth revealed is actually what you may not want to hear. Why? Because that will require trust in someone you don’t understand and ultimately can’t control. Ask yourself: do you want the real truth or a version of the truth that fits handily into your ego bubble?

    The other misleading message can be found in the metaphorical play on the original cliche about herding cats - it seems effective on the surface but only serves to muddy the lens by which managers view their artsy villagers and will definitely have an adverse effect on the resulting expectations in the relationship. Why? By changing the reference from “cat” to “tiger” the author is creating more chaos than he realizes:

    1) that creatives can and should be tigers if only they were placed in the right zoo and fed at the right time of day,

    2) that tigers are better than cats (I totally disagree) and a creative still in cat mode is not really quite good enough,

    3) that the ways of the tiger are much more successful than the ways of the cat,

    4) and lastly, it infers that other persons, leaders, or peers, have that level of control, and that the role of the leader is to change someone. This, unfortunately, is the direct opposite of what is needed to make you, the leader, a total rock-star.

    These are the mind-bending paradoxes that will send you down a path of assumptions that I fear could actually serve to damage the relationship, or at the very least derail an attempt to establish respect between a mayor and his citizens.

    The other dichotomy is the promotion of an existing stereotype, one where society values tigers over cats — a sense of kill or be killed, become king of the jungle, go big or go home, throw your ego around and get **** done. And, frankly, that is still the very opposite of what you really want from a creative team. A creative team cannot operate under that sort of tension and pressure - you will simply not get your best work from them - and so I insist that we return to the old cliche.

    To truly foster creativity and drive up production you must work on these paradigm shifts:

    1) Embrace cats - lets make sure our cats feel confident and valued (if that is the truth) no matter how elusive, finicky, weird, or stubborn they may be,

    2) Be Very Patient - cats are slow to respond, aren’t in the business of people-pleasing, don’t really need you, and will wander the edges of his world no matter how much space you give them - all of which can be nerve-racking to “managers” who are in the business of controlling output,

    3) Expect “Procrastination” - you need to work in at least one third of actual production time as a task dedicated to Thinking - a highly underrated and misunderstood necessity for solid results. If your creative innkeeper goes quiet and becomes suddenly aloof, avoids you at all costs, and hides in the bathroom stalls, I can guarantee that he is in a very deep state of creativity. Just because the hands aren’t moving and the mouth isn’t babbling doesn’t mean work is not getting done. It is... and the more distance you can give them better the work will be. You can set a limit on that time, but at least know that some daydreaming time is a requisite.

    When the creative’s intellectual reputation is on the line you can bet she will deliver, and it will most certainly be close to the last minute. Bet on it. But step away and trust that he will speak up if things are not going as planned. And tigers do not belong in the programmers office - let them wander the political and athletic streets of the city - they need to eat raw meat, and you don’t want creatives eating each other. For sure.

  • DCW

    Rock solid book. Found myself in a meeting where I had a very difficult situation and the book's advice was right there. It emphasizes humility and that it is up to you to make a group succeed 90 percent of the time.

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