For the past several years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help hundreds of creative groups throughout the U.S. and abroad think more clearly about their creative process, collaborate better with their internal and external partners and clients, and improve the quality and speed to market of their creative output.

After collaborating with so many teams, I’ve begun to take stock of the common challenges creative groups face. For me, among the most significant is the reactive approach many creative teams (even those at the most prominent companies!) are still taking to their role in their broader organizations. What I mean by this is that many creative teams still view themselves in the “service business,” whether that’s serving external clients, a larger marketing team, or their larger organization.

This idea of how creatives view themselves was definitely echoed during a panel discussion I was lucky enough to participate in at a recent conference for creatives in the sports world. There seems to be a strong consensus that creative teams are still not getting the “street cred” they deserve when it comes to their role in their organization—despite the fact that the work they do directly (and measurably) contributes to growth and revenue.

One problem of how creative teams are conceptualized is often deeply engrained in the fabric of their organizations. So, as a creative, how do you change it?

The key word in that question is YOU!

Don’t be a team that simply sits back and grinds the work out.  I’m calling on you, Creative Team! Who is going to step up and build relationships with other departments, clients, and stakeholders?  Who is going to change the tone of the conversation about creative teams? Who is going to cross the line?

I read a great quote from Simon Sinek the other day:

(If you don’t know who Simon is, you should watch his TED Talk on “start with the why.Brilliant and inspiring).

“Strong relationships, at home or work, are based on trust and communication.  But if there is no communication there will be no trust.”

Start by reaching across the aisle and form stronger bonds with the key stakeholders that you deal with every day—whether they’re heavy requesters or approvers of work, or just have high clout in the organization.  Then, take it one step further and talk to your peers who are collaborating successfully at other organizations.

Making a concentrated effort to “cross the line” will provide more transparency and accountability, foster better working relationships, and alter the way your creative team is viewed. Take it from someone who knows: Teams that do this are happier in their positions, less stressed at work, and not seen as “servants” but as what they truly are: skilled artisans and Creative Professionals!

I appreciate the feedback and thoughts on how your group might be doing this well or trying to improve in this area.