By Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal, Gotham PR
Perhaps the biggest challenge today at the agency C-level is the art form of managing the flow of communication, while empowering both internal and external teams to excel at an intense hourly pace.
Practices in all agencies—whether it is PR, marketing, advertising, digital, social or experiential—will all recognize that the concept of billable hours becomes fluid within a 12-plus hour workday.
While embracing the very real model of change management, as discussed in this TED Talk by globally-acclaimed organizational psychologist Adam Grant, complexity and even chaos are the norm. Through this, very positive and creative results may be achieved.
Any professional inside a top-ranked agency readily recognizes that people work at different speeds, levels and skillsets. Just because there are individuals who aren’t particularly interested in being “leaders” in a company, doesn’t mean that they don’t have original thoughts. An effective organization should be able to tap into this creativity.
The key to recognizing and cultivating individual talents within larger groups relies on high levels of emotional intelligence, but also reiterative communication until the strategic message and vision is met. Gotham PR recently was published in PR Daily on the topic of emotional intelligence, and how it is important for success in the professional world. If the individuals in an agency do not clearly understand their purpose, it will be hard to put their skillset to proper use. Communication, as always, is key.
Open Forum outlines the attributes of great agency leaders by stating the obvious: a more nuanced look at being better or even great means taking a deeper dive into analyzing what motivates a team versus solo operators. This is at the very heart of ‘agency.’ Consistency in leadership style and constant communication are two very important factors when it comes to effectively leading an agency.
We now know through recent studies that certain team members want a “coach”, not a boss. These workers, typically millennials as discussed in a LinkedIn piece by Mark Crowley, look for a mentor and a leader to learn from, but not be shut down with rules and overtly political power plays.
Qualities of what makes a good client were explored in Gotham PR’s first piece on the agency-client relationship published in Bulldog Reporter. The factor that has the biggest impact on the agency-client relationship is expectation management. If clients can realistically grasp what they want to get out of the agency, then they will be happy and prosperous. Leaders in agencies should be aware of when a client relationship may be suffering, and should seek out ways to make repairs.
Public relations is an industry that’s always moving; professionals are always on and always looking for their next move. PRSA touched upon important qualities for an agency leader to effective lead an agency in this fast-paced world.
- Be flexible; when you go fast, things change fast, and you are required to react fast
- Be bold; a bold leader grabs attention and captivates their agency, encouraging others to think creatively
- Never stop growing; in order to lead effectively, an agency leader must always be pushing themselves for personal growth and accelerated learning to be one step ahead
- Learn to adapt; this applies to new technology, as well as new generations entering the workplace who are used to different forms of leadership
In the 21st Century, an effective agency leader doesn’t just “lead”—they form relationships. Many leaders double as mentors for young employees at their organizations. Creating an alumni network of those who have worked with you and have moved up in their field is the ultimate fruit of your leadership’s labor. Having a network of people to learn from and build upon works as a two-way street, for both the leader and their mentee.