Young Agency Leaders: From Management to Leadership

By | November 26, 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.

This post is the final post in a Marketing Agency Insider blog series aimed at sharing lessons we have learned along the way to building a team of young and empowered leaders.

Link Management & Leadership to Launch Your Agency’s Growth

booksSome use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably. For a good read on why we shouldn’t do this, check out Harvard Business Review’s Management Is (Still) Not Leadership by John Kotter (@KotterIntl). One of my favorite excerpts:

“In fact, management is a set of well-known processes, like planning, budgeting, structuring jobs, staffing jobs, measuring performance and problem-solving, which help an organization to predictably do what it knows how to do well. … Leadership is entirely different.

It is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change.”

The two functions need each other. In your agency, leadership is what motivates your team to look forward to work every day. It means you’re bought into the deeper purpose of what you do, and you are glad to work through the means necessary to get there. Management provides the logical way to turn vision into reality.

At PR 20/20, I’m inspired daily by a group of amazing leaders and managers. Paul’s visionary attitude is contagious as we continually evolve agency (and industry) philosophies and solutions. To turn these visions into reality, we stand on a foundation of systems, processes and efficiencies that enable our team to perform and grow.

Managers Manage

We’re all different. If I’ve learned anything about managing a project and a team of people (in a short time myself), it’s to be a real human being, stay organized, help focus and prioritize your team and activities toward goals, take ownership of mistakes, and lift your team up when there are wins.

While I can’t say there is a right or a wrong way to be real human and good agency manager, many smarter than me illustrate certain arts to maintaining motivation among your team of professionals. Consider the following Motivational Maintainers, as coined by C. Bell in “How to Create a High Performance Training Unit,” and referenced in Managing the Professional Services Firm. As a client’s account manager, commit to the following for your team:

  • Provide clear goals.
  • Give prompt feedback.
  • Reward performance quickly.
  • Treat them like winners.
  • Involve in the decision-making process.
  • Seek their opinions often.
  • Provide autonomy in work.
  • Hold accountable for results.
  • Tolerate impatience.
  • Provide varied work opportunities.
  • Keep them aware of upcoming challenging goals. 

For a few additional good reads to brush up on some of the specifics of management, check out the following articles.

Leaders Inspire

When’s the last time you were really, genuinely excited to work on a client or agency project? How did you get to that point and maintain momentum?

Good leadership motivates and inspires. It helps us buy into the deeper reason we do things, and builds trust in that deeper purpose, person and organization.

If you have not watched Simon Sinek’s (@simonsinek) TEDTalk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, take a few minutes to watch it now:

Leaders are genuine—it starts with knowing yourself deeply. Leaders also genuinely believe in a cause or purpose, which makes it easier to get others on board with you. And leaders are always looking for a better way. It’s what continually pushes us away from complacency, and toward vision and the future.

For more articles on leadership specifically, check out a few of my favorites below.

Additional Resources

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

Who’s Leading Your Agency?

What are the common threads you’ve seen among young leaders and managers as they grow into their own at your agency? Interested to hear additional thoughts in the comments below.

See the other posts in this series here: