Advice to Agency Leaders

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Remember what it’s like to be an agency employee. Many people think that leadership is task management and telling people to do something a certain way. That’s not true. 

A leader sets the vision and the tone and provides resources to his or her staff, so the staff can do the work.  When you become a leader, you’re not trying to create a solution, team, or process that accomplishes what you would accomplish. You’re trying to create a system, team, or process that accomplishes what the client needs.

Keep your eye on what the client needs and what your staff needs in order to accomplish your mission. Leadership isn’t about learning to replicate tasks the way that you do them. Use your personal methodology as a starting point, but keep the mission of giving clients the results that they expect. Your other mission is making sure that your team has all the resources (software, time, help, oversight, attention to detail, community) they need to be successful. 

There is a big difference in agency leadership and an agency founder. You’re not the army leader who says, “Follow me up that hill, we’re going to take the flag.” What you’re really doing is gathering your nine-year-old soccer team together and saying, “Hey, let’s go score a goal.” You’re not out there doing the stuff, you’re out there helping your team do the stuff. You’re cheering them on. You’re giving them advice. You’re showing them new ways to think about things, but you’re not doing it yourself.

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