Often, people think that leadership involves telling people what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done by. It’s a common misconception, but it’s one that can hurt your agency in the long run.
Leaders are the visionaries of an organisation who motivate team members, align them with important organisational goals, and instil this sense of passion and dedication in their peers.
To make sure your leaders lead, and managers manage, we’ve debunked the most common digital agency misconceptions about leadership and management.
Myth #1: Leaders are Those Who Have Been on Board the Longest
Not everyone is cut out to be a manager or a leader. And that’s okay.
An effective leader or manager isn’t always the person who has been on the team longest, either. Although this can be a factor in being able to communicate with and manage team members effectively.
Signs of high potential in leadership roles include:
- An ability to put your team’s best interests ahead of yours
- An ability to boost people’s spirits and motivation, even during times of stress
- The power to conduct plenty of trust and respect among your team
Being a problem solver is also an essential skill for a leader. Anyone who displays these key characteristics may be leadership material, even if they’ve only been on board for a few months or years.
Myth #2: Micromanaging People is the Key to Getting Stuff Done
The more strictly you control your team members’ actions, the better they’ll be able to produce work that’s up to standard, right?
There are few things more demotivating or frustrating than having a manager who picks on everything you do. Micromanaging your team members can seriously impact their performance and their motivation to take their own initiative and use their unique skills to your agency’s advantage.
When you micromanage your team, morale takes a hit, your team members feel powerless to make a difference, and teamwork is hindered. This style of management also hinders creativity, leads to employee burnout, and damages trust between managers and leaders and their teams.
Giving up some control and giving your team members agency to work according to their own strengths can reduce your turnover, motivate your team members to try new things, and keep them accountable for their work as well. It’s a win-win all around.
Myth #3: Productivity Comes from Rigid Approaches
Stop us if you’ve heard any of these common productivity myths before. “Use every second of your day to your advantage.” “Set huge, ambitious goals that will get your agency where it needs to be in record time.” “Use extrinsic rewards to motivate your team to perform.” These may seem like tempting prospects, but they are all myths that can actually hold your agency back from success.
When it comes to productivity, aiming to constantly achieve and produce during every minute of your working day goes against human nature. In fact, deep work experts assert that we can only produce around 4 highly productive hours every day. It will better serve your agency to encourage your teams to identify their most productive hours and focus on making the most of those times instead of pushing for all-day, everyday productivity.
Setting huge goals may hinder your progress by overwhelming you early on in a project. When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t take the steps necessary to progress towards your objective, and the whole process backfires.
A better approach is to start with small, consistent goals that are manageable and fairly simple to achieve. These steps will build up quickly, allowing you to reach your larger goals incrementally without getting stressed out or demotivated.
The same goes for extrinsic rewards, which don’t work quite the way you might expect. It’s easy to think that most people are motivated by money, titles, and status, but studies have found that this type of reward can actually impair motivation in people who already find certain tasks engaging.
Instead of offering extrinsic motivators, encourage your teams to cultivate intrinsic motivation, set priorities, and develop skills and abilities that will serve them in both their professional and personal lives.
Myth #4: There’s a Single Strategy to Being a Good Manager
While it would be great if a manager could follow a single rule to become more effective, unfortunately no such golden rule exists. Instead, adept managers adopt many characteristics and traits that make them better at what they do.
For instance, the best leaders have clear expectations of their teams, and communicate these expectations in a way that makes them crystal clear. They collaborate with their team members, focus on growth and innovation, and avoid management no-nos like micromanagement, only providing feedback when problems occur. Effective managers also build trust with their team members by staying approachable to them and genuinely empathetic towards their concerns.
Myth #5: Feedback Should Be Limited to Annual Reviews
No one likes performance reviews. They’re universally dreaded by managers and employees alike. A year’s worth of criticism is challenging for anyone to take on board, and it can be equally challenging for them to enact meaningful change to address all your concerns at once.
However, feedback is an incredible tool that can lead to awesome performance and agency growth if given fairly, positively, and with a focus on improvement. Issues should be addressed as soon as possible, regularly, and with as much specific detail as possible to give your team members a decent chance to rectify any problems. Remember to praise your team members for what they’re doing right, too, and follow up after giving feedback to make sure that the right adjustments are being made.
Myth #6: A High Staff Turnover Means You’re a Bad Manager
If retention rates are low and turnover is high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that management is to blame. There are plenty of other factors that could be at play, including suboptimal job satisfaction, poor pay, a weak work culture, a lack of employee appreciation, or work that doesn’t feel meaningful to your team members.
Your first step should be to ask your staff that are leaving why they are doing so, and to speak to your current team members to find out how you can build a better, more satisfactory culture in which they feel happy and motivated to help you succeed.
Once you know what you need to do, create a plan of action to address your team’s concerns and you’ll be able to reduce turnover and keep your talent on board in the long run.
Leadership is a Skill
Effective leadership and management are skills that you can develop if you know how.
Now that you’re aware of the most prevalent leadership and management myths in agency settings, use this knowledge as a tool to keep your employees engaged and eager to put their abilities to good use.