Lessons from the Leaders

To say that attending last week’s IHAF Leadership Summit was exactly what I needed is an understatement. You see, over the last three years, my in-house agency has reached our max ability to do projects quickly in large quantities. Projects that have the potential to be great, but rarely are. And when I wonder why we don’t do more great work, I don’t have to look any further than my own leadership.

Sure, I had my reasons and it felt right while doing it, but we missed the mark and as it turns out, I had the wrong target. This came through loud and clear listening to the well-organized panel discussion at the IHAF Summit and the presentations by real leaders. If I want my team to play varsity, I have a lot of work to do. Luckily, I left the day with a lot of places to start. Here are five:

1) Vision was the word of the day. You need one. And it needs management support to grow. But it needs everyone on your team to be fully bought in for it to thrive. If any employee is saying, “My boss’s vision is …” you don’t have buy-in.

2) You need to know what your clients think of you—good or bad. It will help inform your vision and immediately sets up satisfaction baselines you can build from. And don’t forget IHAF can help you survey your clients—just click here to get started.

3) Measure your work’s impact to focus on work that has impact. Measure ROI, leads, awareness, satisfaction, clicks, and so on. Without this knowledge, it is impossible to know what work to keep doing and what to send to the side lines as it doesn’t meet your needs.

4) Hire visionaries. Sometimes you don’t need people who can do all the work. You need people who know how to conduct the orchestra in order to make the best music.

5) If you can’t do the right work, maybe you shouldn’t do it at all. This one really rang true for me. We became a service-focused group because we never said “no.” Even if we had to “do the best we could” in 15 minutes, we did. You don’t do great work that way. You just do a lot of work. 

And here is a bonus tidbit I learned while at the Leadership Summit (which was held at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, by the way). If you were to drink a different Coca-Cola product every day, it would take you nine years to try them all! By then, you could have transformed your in-house agency twice if you focus on the right things and not just on what you are doing today.

A recording of each presentation from the Leadership Summit is available to IHAF members, here.

1 Reader Comment

  • Pam Upton said

    Great perspective on another great IHAF event! The team at Coke really outdid themselves as hosts (with help from some pretty terrific sponsors). I'm always fascinated to hear how different agencies are organizing themselves to keep up with all the rapid change. A key takeaway for me was to remember that a good intake process facilitates success through the rest of the process, i.e. great work. Seems pretty obvious but if your creatives aren't blessed with great account partners like we are, you may fall prey to the "quick and dirty" handoff that leaves you guessing and too frequently missing the mark on what your clients actually want.

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