Young Agency Leaders: It Starts with Attitude

By | November 15, 2013
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Does your agency have a young, motivated group of marketers managing multiple client campaigns, leading different teams of agency staff, and taking on more ownership of agency business operations? For many young agency pros, it’s not the marketing skills that are an unexpected career hurdle—it’s the management skills needed to thrive in the scenarios above.

The common excuse: typical marketing, journalism or inbound majors are not taught management basics, and young professionals don’t have leadership experience. It’s a reality any agency (and agency professional) needs to prepare for to create a positive environment where young pros continually grow, thrive and lead.

This Marketing Agency Insider blog series aims to share lessons we have learned along the way to building a team of young and empowered leaders.


Attitude Reflects Leadership

In the evolving agency ecosystem, there are no limits for today’s hybrid professional.

“Young, savvy marketers have big opportunities to excel in modern firms. It’s up to these young professionals to take the initiative. But, it’s up to agency leadership to continually set the bar, provide development opportunities, and mold this next generation into a smart, powerful wave of talent.”

- 10 Tips to Build Your Agency’s Next Wave of Leadership

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Agencies can put development programs in place, require training and promote to management positions, but it’s an internal drive—what motivates each of us—that’s critical to any young leader’s success and happiness.

“Attitude reflects leadership” is a phrase I first heard in high school; it was on t-shirts for Holy Name’s student ambassadors, and became a mantra in classrooms. It keeps following me around, too! Recall the phrase from Remember the Titans? I heard it again just this summer during and an Inbound13 talk from Dan Tyre (@dantyre).

Sometimes “good attitude” is hard to define—you have it or you don’t. In high school, an “attitude that reflects leadership” meant good grades, extra-curricular involvement, staying out of detention, and being an example of a well-rounded student. In the marketing agency world, some of the more tangible attributes that reflect a leading agency attitude are as follows: 

  • Be Positive: Come to work with a positive, upbeat attitude, and watch your enthusiasm transfer throughout the team.
  • Stay Professional: Even on the days you might not feel like writing that post, updating redirects, or sifting through rows of data, it’s a professional attitude that gets the job done.
  • Commit to Quality: No task is beneath someone with the right attitude, and no task is completed without attention to detail.
  • Strengthen Work Ethic: Do you meet your own deadlines, are you an indispensible member of your team, and are you an example of personal accountability?

Strong attitudes across your team bring client happiness too.

“Improving the quality of service can be as cheap as instilling more responsive attitudes in professional staff, and it tends to be infinitely more visible to clients. In a service business, and particularly in the professions, the words of the old song remain true: ‘It ain't what you do, it's the way you do it: That's what gets results.’”

- Managing the Professional Services Firm, David H. Maister

“Do As I Say, Not As I Do.” Leaders Take Action.

To inspire action, drive change and hold your team accountable, lead by example.  At the end of the day, remember that attitude and personal responsibility go hand-in-hand.

While you’re off making moves, remind yourself that you advance when your team advances. Take the time to ensure all team members understand how specific tasks fit together in the bigger picture campaign to help achieve client goals, and that the group has a grasp on the process of getting there.

For young leaders, it’s time to step up and take ownership of your own responsibilities and career. Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.

For agencies, this means providing the right environment to make it happen. Ensure young leaders have balanced workloads to avoid burnout, a bit of flexibility to excel where they’re most interested, and internal support of upper management to instill confidence.

Additional Resources

Interested in more on the topic? A few of our agency’s recommended reads to foster the right attitude for your next wave leaders include:

How Has Attitude Shaped Your Career?

What are the traits you look for in current leadership, and young professionals with potential to lead your agency? We’d love to keep the conversation going in the comments below.