Best Places To Work – Leadership

By The Drum, Administrator

May 14, 2002 | 4 min read

1576 directors David Reid and Mark Gorman appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet as their staff – how well they can carry a tune is another question.

5. Confidence in Leadership

All the perks seem to have paid off. The hours spent personally funding late night/early morning drinking sessions and fixing that loose hinge on the office door whilst also driving the business forward has left staff with a warm, fuzzy glow of respect and confidence for their inspirational leaders.

On the whole, staff at Scotland’s marketing services agencies have given their bosses a big gold star and a number of happy faces.

“Good leadership is very important internally,” says Don Galloway, MD of Whitespace. “You have to let staff know what is happening and why. That gives staff confidence. And giving confidence is one of the biggest factors. Our directors talk to staff on a daily basis and, hopefully, we can deal with problems as they arrive, before they become an issue. If directors are always having meetings and not telling the staff of their outcome, then confidence becomes a problem and this can lead to rumours.

“It is human nature to gossip. So it’s better to make sure that it is the facts that are being gossiped about. You can’t have idle gossip and speculation spreading. It has to be nipped in the bud.

“We meet every Friday after work for a few beers and an informal group chat in the boardroom. People will probably go out together after for a drink. It is good to have a close-knit group. People will work harder for each other.”

Will Atkinson of McCann-Erickson Scotland says: “Most agencies have been set up by an entrepreneur. They have gone through the pain barrier of securing the first clients, creating the first campaign and building the team. If they want to create a work culture, and you do need a culture, then as you build up the team you need to get the right staff in. To do this, you need to have very clear lines forward.

“There needs to be as much open management as possible. Everyone needs to have an ownership of their agency or the job can become mundane. That is not what advertising is about – you get paid a lot more for being an accountant, but that is mundane.

“We have meetings every two weeks, where everything is aired. Ideas are swapped, considered and taken on board. This helps staff feel more empowered.”

David Southern, a director at Atlantic PR, adds: “Leadership, especially in a small firm, is crucial. Malcolm Brown and myself will employ staff to work with us and they will stay because they like the way that the company is moving. When we employ an account executive we want to help guide them through, not act as a guardian angel, but, hopefully, the more junior members can learn from us.

“Being part of a small agency people do have to learn fast, so guidance is often the key.”

The last word on leadership, however, must go to David Reid at 1576. When he and his fellow directors were off on their annual directors’ day out, they asked staff for anonymous comments on the leadership of the agency. One particularly cocky member of staff thought that while the directors were away the staff should be allowed to run the agency themselves. Reid’s reply? Well, it was lost in laughter.


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