For most people, the ideal boss/employee relationship is like something you’d see in a movie: Good buddies who grab a beer together after work. But in a creative industry, and especially when you’re first getting started, this can actually be the worst kind of boss for you. In reality, the best kind of boss might just be the last one you’d think you’d want…
Today’s question comes from Hope H. who asks, “I had an interview and really liked the company, but the creative director seemed a little…tough. Not mean or anything, but definitely intimidating. Is that a bad sign?”
First, let’s make sure we’re clear on a few things. Mean bosses are never good bosses—that’s definitely not what I’m talking about when I say “tough.”
Bosses that push you around or make your work environment uncomfortable are simple never going to be good bosses or bosses that help you grow as a professional. Those are the bosses you want to avoid.
“Tough” bosses are different. Tough bosses have high standards. They demand the very best work—and, don’t get me wrong, this can be very scary.
But reporting to someone who expects your very best—and maybe even a little better than your best—forces you to push your own limits.
The thing about creative work is that it can pretty much always be different or somehow better. You’ll never reach a point of perfection. A tough creative director makes you keep perfecting your copy past the place where you’d normally stop.
And, of course, pushing your limits is part of what’s going to help you to grow into a better copywriter. Growth is uncomfortable and, again, a little bit scary, but it’s necessary. You can only be guided so far on this kind of journey; a tough creative director forces you to find your own way but helps to course-correct you if you’re starting to head in the wrong direction.
Just as you want a job that challenges you, you want a boss that challenges you, as well. You, your talent and your career deserve it.
Your turn! Have you had a “tough” boss? What was the experience like? Let us know in the comments below!