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by Jon Leighton | September 04, 2019

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In organizations like digital marketing agencies, marketing managers typically oversee multiple departments with employees with mixed skill sets and objectives. As a result, managers need an adaptable and versatile approach to leadership in order to succeed. Here, Land Digital offers four key leadership qualities required to be a successful marketing manager.

1. The ability to give your employees autonomy

Marketing roles generally require a level of creativity and innovation, which attracts individuals who have specialist expertise, are smart and forward-thinking, and are often fiercely independent. This can make them difficult to manage with traditional methods. And so, since these people form the backbone of multi-faceted organizations like digital marketing agencies—driving forward new ideas, empowering team members, and generally working to improve the business—they need to be nurtured in the right way to be most effective and productive. And one way to do this is by recognizing that these people know more about their skills and expertise than you do, while remembering that you’ve hired them to improve your business in the way they know best.

Whatever your default style of management, if you want key team members and their peers to work at their best, allow them the freedom to take responsibility for their own role and projects. While it can be challenging to relinquish control as a leader, providing employees with autonomy over their work will empower them and boost their performance, while also avoiding the potential for conflict and resistance if you try to be dictatorial.

2. Transparency

When it comes to managing diverse groups of staff, transparency is key to successfully gaining trust and respect. Transparency comes in a number of guises, from clear and honest communications across all departments to owning up to your own flaws and limitations as a manager. With respect to owning up to your flaws, adding this element of humility to your leadership style can be an effective way to encourage a learning culture within your organization that translates across all departments—creating a safe environment for employees to identify their weaknesses and facilitate their upskilling. Whether this is through structured training programs or a more informal mentoring system, the benefits of promoting a learning culture will ensure your employees and company are continually evolving and improving.

In terms of communication, transparency from the higher echelons of management down to new team members is essential for uniting different facets of the business—even in negative situations. Despite the differences in processes, commercial targets, and work ethics of their employees, successful digital marketing leaders should devise shared goals and visions which all departments can work towards. This could be a short-term incentive like a team night out or a broader long-term business vision.

3. Emphasizing the human element

In digital sectors, there’s often a focus on technology and the latest innovation that could be the next big thing to transform the way you work or how the industry as a whole operates. However, successful digital marketing leaders should always have an eye on the human element within the business. This is not just a focus on employees, but also the customer—ensuring that commercial relationships and objectives both in and outside of the business are well maintained through human interaction.

The ability to recognize the value in humanity within business is key to building genuine relationships that are based on empathy and humility, and how these work alongside commercial objectives. These factors all contribute towards establishing a well-balanced ecosystem in the business that achieves a happy staff, happy customers, and a healthy working environment overall.

4. Adaptability

Successful managers realize it’s their job to direct and steer their employees in the right direction to meet the company's bottom line without negatively impacting engagement and productivity levels—which is sometimes a tough balance to find. However, modern leaders are quickly learning is that one style of management doesn’t fit all employees and that being adaptable to different situations is far more effective, particularly in digital marketing companies who offer multiple services. For instance, one worker might relish the freedom to be autonomous within their role, while other workers require a more  hands-on approach to ensure they feel supported in their role.

As a manager, it’s your job to analyze and change different modes of leadership to individual situations—within reason, of course. This versatility demonstrates a level of empathy and understanding that can be a powerful management tool to ensure you get the most out of each individual team member. In addition, this projects a sense of humility and approachability across the board, giving staff the confidence that they can come to you with concerns that will be addressed in a constructive manner to find the best resolution.

Naturally, there are times when a hard line will be needed, but, where possible, taking a step back and assessing the situation before diving in will mean, as a digital leader, you can take the appropriate action in a calm and measured manner. As a result, most situations will be met with less resistance, especially when you provide logical reasoning for your actions.

Jon Leighton is the Managing Director of Land Digital, a full-service digital agency providing made-to-measure marketing, design and development solutions to help businesses in the UK solve their commercial problems.

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