What Kind of Leadership Skill Really Goes into Leading an Agency?
I first met Randy on a Twitter chat called DigiBlogChat and we immediately hit it off. I was a newbie agency owner (still am) and he was already a seasoned veteran.
He very graciously asked me to submit a guest post on leadership tips. We have been great friends since and I’ve often bugged Randy with leadership questions.
So, today we are making the bugging session official with Randy Clark, everyone. Let’s dive right in!
Leadership and Management Consultant,
Randy Clark Leadership
CEO, SEO Elixir
Date: 26 May 2019
Nirvana: Hey, Randy. Can you give our readers a brief intro about yourself?
Sure, I’m passionate about leadership training, writing, flower gardening, preforming in a classic rock band, and beer. The leadership books I’ve written, as well as the training I conduct, and presentations I give are based on all the mistakes I’ve made over the last 40 years. I hope others can learn from my mistakes.
Nirvana: I can appreciate that. You have two businesses that you manage – TKO Graphix and Randy Clark Leadership. How different is your involvement with these two businesses?
Since June of 2010 I’ve been the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, I manage social media and content and I’m privileged to facilitate leadership training. So, at TKO I’m a hired hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company, the people, and the culture, it’s just not – my company.
Randy Clark Leadership is all me. I use the website to promote my writings on leadership as well as look for opportunities to train and present on the topic.
Nirvana: That’s awesome! What made you get into the business?
In 2008 I was the VP of Operations for one of the top 40 (by gross sales) home remodeling companies in the United States. I got home on a Sunday after working 14 hours at a trade show and my wife quietly informed me, I had worked 68 days in a row. We talked. I decided my life and my wife were more important than my job and I resigned. I began freelancing with organizations on management, leadership, and marketing. The more I did this the more appalled I was at how many businesses promoted people into management with little or no leadership training. That’s when I began writing The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management.
I met TKO in 2009 when I was hired to conduct a series of leadership training sessions. In 2010 I was offered a full-time position and I haven’t looked back.
Nirvana: You’ve been around the block. In your honest opinion, what’s the worst kind of client a new business can have?
Great question. One that doesn’t pay or expects “extra” work for free. I have a company that owes me for 18 blog posts I wrote, edited, and published on their website in 2013.
Nirvana: You’re an ace at management and leadership. What do you do when one of your employees is consistently performing poorly?
Before reacting, I review the circumstances. When the results aren’t what I want or expect the first thing I look at was how were they trained. Not if they were trained but were they given what they needed to be able to do the task. Depending on the complexity of the activity, one training session and a checklist probably aren’t enough. The bottom line is: did the training give them the knowledge and confidence to do the job? If not, Then I retrain them.
Next, I want to know if expectations were given. If you don’t give expectations what can you expect? If, as a leader, you ever think or say, “I wouldn’t have done it like that!” “I can’t believe it took them so long to get it done” or “What were they thinking!” If you have those or similar thoughts, you need to look at how you are sharing expectations.
I also want to know if they had the tools they needed to complete the task, actual tools and things like procedural manuals.
Were they given the authority they needed to complete the task?
And finally, was there anything outside of their control that interfered with the task.
If they were given the training they needed, expectations were shared, they had the tools, and nothing interfered then I must conclude that they decided not to do the activity.
My next step is to find out why they decided not to do it and follow that with a corrective action that includes activities to be followed as well as the consequences for not following them.
Nirvana: What was your biggest leadership challenge to date?
I don’t know if what I’m about to share is so much a challenge as it is a lesson. Before I struck out on my own all my leadership positions were titled management positions with direct reports, Sales Manager, District Manager, or VP of Operations.
When I began consulting on leadership, I wasn’t the boss. I learned I had to influence people. I couldn’t boss them. This was especially revealing at TKO because since 2008 I’ve been involved in leadership training here and never once have I been a supervisor. I have however learned to lead without a title.
Nirvana: Is it OK to be dating people that you’re working with?
Legally in the USA, yes, but lines can be crossed. Is it good business, probably not. However, my daughter wanted to date one of her subordinates. Neither of them, are kids they both have PhDs. So, before they began dating in earnest they went to human resources and he transferred out of her department. That was more than two years ago. I attended their wedding in March.
Nirvana: That is the sweetest story ever, Randy. And we wish your family the very best, always.
Here’s a fun one: How do you deal with brown-nosing?
Do you know the difference between brown-nosing and butt kissing? It’s depth perception. If we define brown-nosing as a compliment given for ulterior motives, then we can separate it from sincere regard. A respectful compliment should receive a thank you, something I’m not good at. I tend to brush off compliments with, “Yea, but it could’ve been better.” Sigh. With a brown-noser, I listen and look for their motive.
Nirvana: Over the years, there have been lots of changes in every industry. What’s the one constant in the businesses that you’re running?
People haven’t changed that much. Sure, how folks use technology has changed but the core of what motivates isn’t so different from people a hundred years ago. Most of us want to be appreciated, we want to belong, and we want to know what we do has meaning.
Nirvana: Is it getting easier or more difficult to find clients and good employees as time goes by?
Here in Indianapolis, the unemployment rate is at 3%. Low wage paying industries are closing. A major fast-food chain closed several locations due to lack of employees. A retail store was closed by the fire marshal because the aisles were piled with boxes of new products to be put on shelves, but they had no one to do the work. It may be more important than ever to create a work culture where people want to stay.
Finding clients? If you can solve a problem and get the message to those who have the problem – you’ll find clients, or they’ll find you.
Nirvana: I agree a 100 percent about the sucky work culture. It’s a problem in India as well. It’s partly why we set up this company – to do something about the horrible work culture.
I hope that the future brings lots of happy little moments for you, Randy. Love and luck!
Randy Clark, everybody. Tweet him @randyclarktko with silly questions about management and don’t forget to follow him for more awesome content. He’s got a bunch of killer books on management that you should DEFINITELY purchase on Amazon as well.
Handling work pressure and leading a team is never an easy task. People assume that leading a small team is easier than handling a big one. But that’s not really true.
Delegation. Understanding people. Influencing them. Making lives better.
These are all some very interesting topics and each person has their own style of getting things done. Sadly, everyone somehow expects the people in charge to be hunky-dory all the time. Well, they’re not. Ignoring their problems while they help you solve yours is NOT OKAY.
But, hey! If you are in a position of management and you can create a dent in the work culture around you, it’s all worth it. Tune in next week for more awesome interviews on News Elixir.
Also, share this post because Randy is awesome and he deserves the love.
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