I have worked the majority of my career in entrepreneurial environments that were hybrids of the in-house agency model. Learning what not to do has been the most valuable leadership experience I gained. Over the years as I moved through the ranks, I have witnessed the reaction to selfish leadership and the cancerous effects it can have on a team. A true leader earns respect and  does not demand it – this is the difference between being a boss and being a leader.

Here is one experience that honed my views on leadership:

As a young art director I had been given notice on Thursday of a large pitch due over the weekend, and the creative director at the time voiced the “Let’s come together and make this amazing. We are all in this together.” boilerplate speech. He proceeded to leave early on Friday and was never heard from or seen again until Monday–just in time to hand in the deck. My team worked long hours and we won the client and multiple awards as a result–which he was happy to accept on our behalf.

As a result of that experience, I have been heavily involved on all large projects my teams have had in queue. I always let them have a voice and impact the outcome.

I give them credit in all company forums and never, ever accept the award. I clap from the sidelines. True leaders know what they contributed and a well-led team knows they have a leader of value.

Accountability is a driving force behind true leadership. The equity you can build from a transparent relationship with your team is very difficult to achieve with a “need-to-know basis” mentality. If you show your commitment to your team in visible and actionable ways, you will have continued growth and success.

Far too often as leaders we distance ourselves from the actual work. Do not let meetings trump getting your hands dirty with your team from time-to-time. They will respect you for it and hopefully you didn’t get into this business to just attend meetings. It can be refreshing and inspiring to be a part of the creative process when time allows, so get in there and get inspired, it will in turn present you as a leader and motivate your team.

This POV brought to you by a member of Boom Ideanet, “Instant bandwidth for the creative department of the future.”


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