Leaders are often the most visible members of a company. While people recognize names like Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, and Jeff Bezos because they’ve managed large businesses, the names of even the most helpful employees never receive recognition. For that reason, many people crave leadership positions for the power, authority, and fame that is often associated with leading a team.
However, leadership goes beyond being the talking head of your agency or team. While it may be exciting to have the decision-making power, great leaders are rarely people that bask in the limelight of their success. The leader of a creative agency will not only have to carry the weight of developing a competent team, but also must create and maintain the brand image of the company. In a marketing agency with multiple moving parts, it is your responsibility as the leader to ensure that your messaging and image remain consistent.
Being an efficient leader is more than giving orders to your colleagues and employees. Here are three misconceptions about how to be a great leader and how to avoid them.
1. A leader’s only job is to tell people what to do.
Appropriately managing and delegating tasks can often be a leader’s most challenging responsibility. You need to be intimately in touch with your team’s unique skills to know who would be best aligned with your upcoming marketing campaign or who might shine in a management position.
Telling people what to do is only a tiny proportion of this task; great leaders spend most of their time analyzing their team’s abilities and how they can be used to improve the company. Providing instructions and directions is just the final step in executing a well-considered plan.
Furthermore, the best leaders are never above “getting their hands dirty” occasionally. After all, you should be experienced in what your employees are doing so that you can provide the most helpful advice and guidance. You don’t need to do the grunt work, but writing a couple of lines of copy here and there never hurt anyone.
2. Leaders never make mistakes or doubt their decisions.
Once you make it to the top, you may feel that you are the only leader who is not sure about where to take their company. However, the doubts and insecurities you had as an employee do not magically disappear once you receive a corner office. While many CEOs and managers appear calm and collected on the outside, they are almost certainly fighting the same battle as you.
As a leader, your decisions carry weight, and you cannot afford to appear too hesitant. Accept that you made the best choice you could with the information you had at the time. However, don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. If the recent ad or email campaign you launched is a flop, there is no shame in conceding it. In fact, the best leaders are those that can admit to their humanity and confess when they’ve messed up.
3. Leaders are born, not made.
While some people start showing leadership ability from a young age, this quality does not necessarily make a great leader. You don’t need to have an outgoing personality to get your team on board with a new partnership or innovative campaign. Being a successful leader requires knowing how to subtly and intentionally influence the actions of your team so that they follow your lead without feeling that you are a dictator. A collaborative and cooperative leader will often receive much better outcomes than a tyrannical one.
On that note, remember that you can continually learn and improve your leadership skills. The first mistake many leaders make is to think that they already know all there is to know. It is best to be humble and treat leadership as a learning experience; ask for feedback from your team and peers so you can continue to improve the way you manage your company.
The image of a leader as an infallible, stone-cold figure at the head of a company is not applicable to the needs of a creative and dynamic marketing agency. Despite their power, leaders are human, too, and they should model respect, modesty, and honesty for their team. Marketing requires trial-and-error experimentation; everyone will make mistakes, and a good leader will ensure that their team learns from those errors to continue to improve their service.