One thing I've learned running a digital media group is that while having sound, well thought out strategy is important, its not the most important aspect of this job. Neither is your ability to come up with creative ideas. Reality is, that if your hiring well, you have many smart people working for you that have their own well thought out ideas. Those ideas might be (gasp) better then their boss's.
When it comes to running a digital media group, like any group, good leadership is the most important thing. It doesn't get your name in the trades, invites to vendor boondoggles, or even as many immediate "attaboys" from agency management.
What it does do is retain talent, inspire your employees to give the most out of themselves, provides more cool heads in a storm and optimism. Hire well and do that and you will have happy customers. Happy customers are the beating heart of any strong business. In time (years my impatient digital friends) attaboys will come in the form of salary increases (and opportunities) when your group consistently makes more money for the agency year after year.
In order to be a good leader here's what I try and focus on:
- Candor - Above all things. When its hard to candid, that's when it matters most.
- Never be content - I expect every employee I have to be the best in the industry at their job. Expect that, and then they will expect it as well.
- Be positive - Balancing this and never be content is tricky but not impossible. Respect their journey, and their effort, pay them when its justified, just keep moving the finish line.
- Cut bait - Give every effort to coach an employee to meet your needs, but if you can't do it, be honest with yourself, and them and cut bait. The difference between a great employee and an OK one is dramatic.
- Know Your Shit - This one IS about craft and strategy. When it comes to marketing strategy and tactics your ideas don't need to always be smarter than your employees. But you absolutely must be smarter some of the time. If not, you're an empty suit and all the leadership traits in the world won't save you. When focusing on being a leader, never lose your craft.
- Integrity - Simplest thing in the world. Do what you say you will do.