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My team has no ACD/CD and no plans on hiring one. I feel like I’m not going to be able to grow without that level of creative leadership and my bosses don’t understand the need. What should I do?

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You’re in a tough position. But what if you looked at it this way: this is your opportunity to grow into the ACD role. Tell your bosses you want the role and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Show ambition, learn on the fly, fake it till you make it. Truth is, that’s how most of us get to where we are. While there are a lot of creative leaders out there, only a small fraction of them are great mentors.

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Thank you for this advice! You’re so right, it’s definitely an opportunity for me to step up. I guess I was just kind of doubting my ability to grow to the next level without having the guidance but like you mentioned it’s not guaranteed having a CD means they will be a good mentor.

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Not so sure CD1 - if jobs not exactly throwing themselves at OP’s feet, there are ways of turning sour citrus into lemonade (vodka-enhanced, of course). Of course, I’m biased since I’m pretty much entirely self taught and still done decently both in agency reality and on fantasy island (Cannes, One Show, London, Athenas, CA, etc...). First, if there’s no CD in sight, that leaves one candidate for the job—you. Doesn’t mean you get the actual title, but you do need to understand the position including the strat, client side, and especially the internal parts of the game (I bet one of the things you miss most is a senior to fight for your work. Good news: that’s a skill that can be learned) . To that end, I was amazed in early at how willing even stars in the biz are to share insights—you just have to ask (if someone’s a jerk about it, not your prob). There are also solid seminars and classes out there worth seeing if your agency will foot or do on your own. Plus books—Luke Sullivan is a must, but other good ones worth your time. Second, freelancers—esp. those who’ve been ACD or CD level are a great resources. If you can get them hired for a job, you get the extra bonus of picking their brains and even getting some of that guidance you’re looking for (the mentoring side of being a CD doesn’t mean s/he is going to hold your hand much of the time—since it’s episodic anyhow, why not grab the help as you can?). Last, while there are CDs who specialize (TV or digital or whatever), I believe the future belongs to people who are 360 fluent. The more you know about every function in the agency, and all the tools in the chest, the better you will be—in your present post as well as a future CD. Not saying any of this is easy—but, then again, having a bad creative boss can be worse than not having one at all.

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Thank you for this advice!!!

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start looking right away

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Even if you had a CD there’s no guarantee you’d get any insight or mentoring. Take leadership yourself, make mistakes, learn, repeat. You don’t need anybody’s permission to make an ad.

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You’re absolutely right. I needed this reminder. Thank you!

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Get out. I used to work at a place like that and it was absolutely horrible. Aside from the lack of growth there is no one with any clout to stand up for creatives and creative work. Everything is account driven and account leads act as CDs. The work will be bad and you will be treated like a machine instead of given what you need to succeed.

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Who is your boss now f there's no ACD/CD? You shouldn't be reporting to someone in account or strategy, and any ECD should recognize the importance of structure in teams. Unless it's a small shop, then you are the creative lead and can grow into a more senior role on your own. You just need to be your biggest advocate - ask for more responsibility, take on bigger projects, and keep developing yourself. If no one is on board with that, get out

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But I’m just lil old me what do I know 😅

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I’m kinda in the same boat. Just feel stuck.

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I feel like I know you

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