SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences

Leadership of creative professionals: Dealing with negative self-talk and the threats of AI

A research project by Marcin Gajewski

Many creative professionals are more prone to self-doubt and critical self-assessments than they express. This problem has only exacerbated with the threat that Artificial Intelligence poses to the creative industry.

Our student Marcin Gajewski completed an artistic research project on this topic for his M.A. International Management (Focus on Creative Leadership) at SRH, where he brought together leadership studies and creative work.

Marcin holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Central Saint Martins (London, UK), and worked as an artist, film maker, chief storyteller and new work ambassador in Europe, the UK, and China. 

For his research, he interviewed professionals from the creative industries in Berlin and found negative self-talk to be very common. He also found that most creatives have an ambivalent attitude towards the impact of generative AI on their work. 

Gajewski has also worked with artificial intelligence to generate metaphorical illustrations that capture the essence of the fear that is going around. He asked AI to generate images based on the interviewees sceptical statements about AI.

The study also investigates strategies that creatives can use to counter this issue. The suggestion is that leaders need to normalize discussing negative self-talk in professional contexts and proactively lead by example by opening up about their doubts.

“It can lead to strong cathartic feelings and a sense of belonging within the team/organization”.

Gajewski also suggests being ethical and careful about implementing AI. He claims that this is especially relevant today, as binding good creative talent to your organization is becoming more and more difficult. AI may only make this more difficult.

This AI-generated imagery, based on interview quotes and prompts by Gajewski, expresses the fear of the “skeleton” crew in a writers’ room. Quote from the interview: “I would fear large streaming platforms in the desire to create more content would employ ChatGPT to generate scripts and then have a really skeleton crew of writers working to revise them, rather than employing the full quota of writers that it takes to fill writers’ rooms.”

This AI image was created using this interview quote: “In the film industry, as we already have very few arthouse films (…) and people don't have the energy or the desire to get out of their quotidianity, to taste something sharp. My fear is maybe in the future, these very mundane tastes are going to be fed more and more efficiently by AI generated films, images or music. And then people would be even lazier to really taste something new and to be sharp in their senses and in their way of seeing life.”