Why Your Agency Leadership Style Must Evolve to Enable Growth
How would you define your agency leadership style? Has your leadership evolved as your agency grows? Or has it remained stagnant as you keep doing things the way you’ve always done them? Ideally, your style should align with your agency culture and enable the desired outcomes for your agency. Finding your ideal leadership approach takes time, but it helps to first clearly define your goals. Furthermore, what kind of culture do you want to foster in your business? As today’s guest explains, agency owners need to adjust their leadership style as their agency continually grows. She shares how she’s identified the right leadership style for her agency’s current stage, and how her leadership team has also adopted styles that align with how they want to show up for the agency.
Bobbie Bailey is the owner and president of M Agency, a digital agency that partners with companies looking to build memorable brands, websites, and marketing campaigns. As a full-service creative marketing agency headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, they work with clients in a variety of industries. Bobbie is an accidental agency owner whose career has taken many twists and turns. She is on the show reflecting on the transition from print advertising to digital and her evolution as an agency owner and leader.
In this interview, we’ll discuss:
- Evolving your digital agency to focus on what clients need.
- Helping brands adapt to the digital age.
- What type of leadership style enables agency growth?
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Get to know your Smart Agency Guest Host: John Corcoran is the co-founder of Rise25, an agency that helps companies launch and run podcasts profitably. He followed Jason’s podcast and eventually joined the mastermind and has been a guest on the podcast before. Today, he’s helping Jason bring something new to the Smart Agency podcast audience by interviewing a special guest and bringing a new perspective to the show.
Learning How to Evolve Your Skills into a Role You Desire
At just 15 years old, Bobbie was determined to work. She figured the restaurant industry was the right place to start, so she began persistently calling all the restaurants in her area. Her tenacity paid off when one restaurant created a hostess role specifically to hire her. This formative experience taught Bobbie invaluable skills in reading people and adapting to different situations. Additionally, she learned to handle a high level of responsibility early on. To this day, when interviewing potential hires for her agency, if Bobbie sees restaurant experience on their resume, she knows they can handle a lot.
After studying computer science, Bobbie interned at a woman-owned tech company. This proved to be a great learning experience. As she had hoped, the internship led to a full-time job offer. However, the owner was very honest and actually encouraged Bobbie to pursue something more suited to her interpersonal skills. While skilled in computer science, Bobbie wondered if she wanted to sit behind a desk for the rest of her career. After all, her people skills could provide success in other directions.
Considering her options outside of computer science ultimately led Bobbie to a job producing the Yellow Pages. Her entry-level role involved cold-calling 70+ people per day. Before long, Bobbie quickly grew from prospector to sales representative.
Helping Brands Adapt to From Print to Pixel
As the company’s work culture took a turn for the worse and it became clear the future was in digital advertisement, Bobbie felt motivated to make a change. Clients were asking her for support in the transition from print advertising to digital and navigating this new world. How to take advantage of the digital medium? With so many options, how could they better spend their budget?
Businesses that came from the print world and managed to evolve to digital proved to be very innovative. They found a way to monetize different channels and different mediums and adapt to a new era. Luckily, Bobbie had just the right training to know how to provide the support and strategy they needed. Furthermore, digital exposure was still very limited, with not as many options as we see today, so the transition felt natural.
Evolving Your Digital Agency to Focus on the Needs of the Clients
Initially, Bobbie transitioned into a consultant helping companies outline a digital marketing strategy. However, she quickly realized there were not any full-service agencies in this space. Since there was no one looking at the full picture she added website development to her services.
Bobbie grew a team that built websites and brought many brands to the new era. For instance, some of their clients had websites that were more than a decade old, terribly outdated, not optimized for smartphone view, and full of useless PDFs. Her agency completely rebuilt its clients’ online presence and brand.
It took about five years for her to learn enough and realize the need to focus more on brands. From that point on, everything at her agency is rooted on branding, brand identity, and brand archetypes.
Bobbie and her team have different ways to extract a business’ personality. They go deep asking all sorts of questions that vary according to the industry. Then, all key stakeholders are interviewed as part of the process. Finding the essence of a business is vital to helping them articulate their voice and visual identity.
What Type of Leadership Enables Agency Growth?
Being an agency owner is a leadership role that changes and evolves as the business grows. In Bobbie’s case, she recently realized the leadership style she developed over the years was no longer a good fit for an agency of their size. She had to step back, identify the problems, and get curious about coaching styles. She had a business coach who regularly met with the team and provided support. However, as the agency grew the expectation for support continued even though the agency had outgrown it.
Choosing and committing to a leadership style requires an understanding of whether or not it fits your agency. This is something Bobbie has shared with her leadership team. At present, everyone on her team has also named their leadership style and identified how they want to show up for the agency. This helps keep everyone accountable and behaving according to the ideal way they want to show up.
Consider the leadership style you desire. Then take some time to outline the outcome you want. After that, identify and name your desired leadership style. Some people may want a militaristic type of organization. Some prefer servant leadership where they get involved whenever a problem comes up. However, this type of leadership is not ideal when you’re trying to scale your business. That’s where a coaching style can be helpful to try to pass the baton and focus more on the vision. In the end, your leadership style must be suited to the current growth stage and the desired outcomes to get your agency to the next level.
Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?
If you want to be around amazing agency owners who can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360. Our agency growth program enables you to take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.