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Position Papers

Essential Leadership Qualities

What are the characteristics of a leader that others want to follow?As you’ll soon see, this list is a very personal one. In other words, we’d all come up with different elements when building the list. What I’ve tried to do, though, is to think of a complete leader. So I’ve asked myself this question: can I imagine a leader who isn’t fair, for instance. The answer is obviously no. Each one of these, then, describes a leader’s characteristics, any one of which might hinder their effectiveness if missing in any significant proportion. What I’d encourage you to do--maybe even before you read this list--is to first make up your own list and compare it with mine. (These are not presented in any particular order.)

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Five Important Personal Transitions to Make

As you grow, what transitions are useful and even expected? Let’s look at a few that you’ll almost certainly encounter and help you see what might be on the other side of the transition.

One: Hiring for Expertise vs. Money

The first good transition to make is to begin hiring people for their expertise rather than for what they cost you. In the early days, you have a budget and you hire accordingly. You aim for whatever you can get for that price, and that’s the best you can do. There simply isn’t any more money, and expertise takes a back seat to available funds.

Eventually, though, you determine that expertise is more important than money. So you outline what you’re looking for in great detail and you don’t settle for less. You have a budget in mind, but the budget takes a back seat to the requirements for expertise. That means you may bust the budget. But in this scenario, one very qualified person may actually be equally as effective as two less qualified individuals.

Two: From Judging to Shaping

The second good transition to make is to move from judging to shaping the work underneath....

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Advantages of Being a Larger Firm

I’ve always advised firms to view growth (defined as an increased body count) as something largely neutral. It’s not good or bad—just different. That can relieve the inappropriate pressure to grow, grow, grow. So called “developed” cultures place a premium on growth, even to the point of saying “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”

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Advantages of Being a Smaller Firm

What better time to point out the advantages of being a smaller firm than when the industry is experiencing a contraction. All the more so since we have this strange obsession with growth, captured in phrases like “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.” You can’t fit deep thinking on a bumper sticker, and that looks like a bumper sticker to me.

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Four Essential Marketing Ingredients

There are four things that will do more than anything else in making you successful at landing new business. If these four things are present at your firm, you’d actually have to work very hard not to succeed.

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Avoiding Marketing

Most of us would acknowledge that marketing our firms is important, though such a statement is often followed by “but…” It’s nothing to beat ourselves up about, but not having a marketing mindset will hold your firm back.

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Bringing Balance to Your Creative Services Firm

Whether or not you have articulated it, your firm is mission driven. (Furthermore, what looks “balanced” to you because it aligns with your own interests might appear imbalanced to someone else with different priorities.) In the absence of a clear statement surfacing this focus, how would I discover the unique nature of your firm or the firm where you work?

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Belief, Opportunity, Capacity

What leads to business success? If you’ve ever gone back to your high school reunion, you’ve probably seen some surprise success stories and scratched your head while asking the same question. For small marketing firms, success typically follows one of two paths.

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Building a Staff: Ten Suggestions for Doing it Right

What does it mean to build and then lead a staff? Few of us received any formal training for it, so we often model our own style on the examples we’ve had in other bosses (and parents). Too bad, really, because learning to do this ought to be a lot less accidental.

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Creative Burnout

Burnout is widely felt in marketing field. So much so that every individual will face it at some point in his/her career.

Some of it stems from a propensity toward short attention spans, developed at an early age. Oddly enough, if you didn’t have access to a TV or hours of video games, you might be more creative now! (So much for the impact of your profession.)

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