Leading by Example in a Dynamic World: Tips for Agency Leaders
Agency Management

Leading by Example in a Dynamic World: Tips for Agency Leaders

Scott Strandberg
Scott Strandberg

Leading by example can establish a business culture, set workplace standards, and encourage growth. Some digital agencies struggle when implementing new behaviors and practices, and some business owners require extra coaching and training to thrive. Developing your leadership style is essential to your agency’s success and helps you develop consistent operations.

Why is leading by example important?

The employer/employee relationship is a two-way street in the fast-paced and collaborative environment of a digital agency. Building trust, fostering respect, and generating morale take time but are much more easily achieved when setting a clear example for your team.

When you demonstrate the qualities and behaviors you value in the workplace, you set a precedent for your peers and employees. From C-suite representatives to team leaders, every workplace authority can develop the skills to lead by example.

9 tips to become a better leader within your agency

While leading by example might seem like a nebulous concept, there are actionable steps you can take to become a better business leader. Follow a few critical tips whether you’re focusing on industry trends and best practices or are interested in improving collaboration.

Be a role model for desired behaviors

Showcasing desired behaviors can be vital for your business culture, day-to-day collaboration with your team, and the overall growth potential of your agency. While picking up new habits can be difficult, it can inspire employees and increase buy-in to new policies and procedures.

Showcase your passion and dedication to the agency

When the agency lead is excited about their work, it’s hard for their employees not to feel the same. While it’s impossible to be constantly cheerful, always be professional and energetic, especially in collaborative or team-facing scenarios.

Between setting up continuing education courses, training, or consultations for your team, you can promote workplace development in several ways. Even if you can’t attend every conference or training your employees do, you should try to be present as often as possible so you’re not relying on secondhand information and can act as an authority within your industry.

Set clear expectations and goals for your team

Setting clear expectations helps keep the team leaders and employees aligned. Manageable, observable goals help teams understand progress and their impact on those specific goals and the overall agency performance. Adjust your expectations and goals regularly based on available data.

Prioritize team collaboration and skill-sharing

In an agency, collaboration is vital. For example, one account manager might excel with client-facing tasks but requires help with data analysis. Another may be an expert at SEO or advertising but needs help conducting an online survey. Collaboration and skill-sharing help everyone grow, including team leaders. Leading by example and collaborating with your teams on sales opportunities, new clients, and internal touchpoints can greatly help.

Provide regular feedback and opportunities for growth

Leading by example also involves providing clear, solid feedback and encouraging continued growth. Otherwise, you risk employees feeling as though they’re in the dark. Use any of the 360 employee feedback tools available periodically throughout the year, establishing a peer-to-peer feedback culture within your agency. Giving constructive feedback to your team members will help them understand their strengths and weaknesses so that they can constantly improve them.

Celebrate successes and learn from failures

Your failures are equally crucial to your successes, and you should respond to each one accordingly. Failure allows you to understand what went wrong. Success will enable you to drill down on what you did well and lift team members and leaders.

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Promote a culture of accountability and responsibility

Understanding when and how to take responsibility for failures and missteps can show employees that you’re not immune to criticism and can still grow and learn alongside your team. Humility is an essential facet of a successful leadership style.

Be open to new ideas and embrace experimentation

Make your employees feel heard by sourcing new ideas, trying new methods, or testing proposals. This helps employees feel more agency over their work.

How can you overcome the challenges of leading by example within your agency?

Of course, with any new behaviors, policies, or initiatives, there will be challenges. Leading by example doesn’t come naturally for every agency owner, though you can train many core skills. There are a few natural challenges you might experience, from difficulty establishing new routines to employee pushback.

Maintain consistency

If you respond to one of the agency’s clients professionally one day but don’t give the next day’s call the same level of effort, it can set a bad precedent for your employees. Consistency is critical, particularly when encouraging new behaviors or workplace standards. So, how do you remain consistent when you’re learning how to lead people?

If you’re adopting new policies, consistently follow them and help course-correct when you see others struggling to do so. Regularly monitor progress toward goals, adjust strategies as needed, and foster a culture of accountability, encouraging team members to hold themselves and each other to high standards.

Cope with resistance or skepticism

Not everyone adapts well to changes in the workplace. Sometimes, you’ll find that your initiatives face a fair bit of skepticism. Leading by example and setting expectations can be especially difficult in these instances. Focus on communicating the reasoning behind your decisions and detailing the anticipated benefits. Be receptive to feedback and adjust your approach when necessary.

Manage diverse and remote teams

Part of any leadership style deals directly with your capacity to work with diverse and remote teams within a digital agency setting. Managing distributed teams can help expose team leaders and employees to new perspectives, fresh ideas, and exciting opportunities for collaboration.

To set solid examples for your team members, establish regular check-ins and team meetings to maintain engagement and productivity. You should always work to promote a culture of inclusivity, understanding, and respecting individual differences and working styles. In addition, you can also provide team bonding opportunities, such as virtual social events or team-building activities.

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Adapt to changing circumstances

Static businesses can quickly become stagnant, especially if agency leaders aren’t willing to adapt to new industry information, market shifts, or changing circumstances. As for how to lead people to navigate change better, encourage innovation and adaptability within your team, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Communicate changes effectively and involve your team in the decision-making process when appropriate so everyone feels like they are heard.

Most importantly, be proactive in seeking resources, tools, and support systems to help you adapt and thrive in changing circumstances. While it’s impossible to completely future-proof your agency, you can always future-prepare it.

Address client concerns and expectations

As a digital agency owner, you should be as knowledgeable about each client as your team leaders and account managers. However, you also need to address concerns and expectations proactively. To do so, develop a deep understanding of each client's business goals, industry, and target audience.

Foster strong client relationships through regular communication and transparency. Set realistic expectations and communicate the project scope, timeline, and deliverables. Beyond that, you can use time-tracking software to provide more accurate time estimations.

Be proactive in addressing potential issues, providing timely updates, and offering solutions. Finally, solicit client feedback regularly to improve processes and services that can aid you when leading by example.

Elorus gives you the tools to become a better leader

Remember that leadership by example doesn’t mean doing everything on your own. With assistance from the Elorus platform, it’s easier to access rich, actionable data to inform your leadership style and business decisions.

Elorus provides all-inclusive business software that comprises time-tracking tools, project management capabilities, invoicing, and expense management. Using more robust data sets, you can focus on what’s going well for your agency and discover areas of opportunity for growth and development. Sign up for free today to learn more about the Elorus platform and how it can help your agency grow.