In the marketing world there are “approvers” and “inspirers.” I’ve been both and the latter is a much nicer place to live. Both must teach the people who work for them, but approvers tend to look at work product, evaluate it, then recite the right way or provide principles for good work. More often than not this comes off as preachy and pedantic. Using a pedagogy metaphor, they teach from the front of the class, broadcasting the lessons. Inspirers, on the other hand, instruct by creating an environment for people to do great work. It’s not judgmental it’s inspirational. Rather than instruct from the front of the class, continuing the metaphor, inspirers allow for learning through participation, experience and discovery.
When writing creative briefs or insight decks my job is to inform through stories and observations pregnant with possibilities. Telling an art director and copy writer to sell more absorbent paper towels is different than finding a moment when an absorbent paper towel is important. (Baby in arms, new skirt on backwards, presentation in 35 minutes, sitter late, orange juice spill.)
We are all big boys and girls. Not everyone deserves a trophy. Some work is not good and doesn’t deserve to be approved. Balancing feedback with inspiration forth can make a world of difference. Find ways to inspire and everyone’s work will improve…including your own. Subtle peace.