How to Make the Move From Specialist to Leader

Many of us become managers and leaders after becoming very good at our specialism. We may become a great designer, a great developer or a great marketer and then at some point, we ask our manager what’s next. The answer – usually to become a manager. But how do you make that transition? How do you move from being great at your specialism to being a great manager and a leader?

Paddy dives into the answer during this presentation.

Video Transcript

I’m Paddy. I’m Co-founder of Aira, a digital agency. But today, I’m going to focus on leadership and talk about how to make the move from a specialist, so whether you are an engineer, a developer, a designer, a marketer through to a leader.

Now, if you are currently some kind of specialist and you want to become a leader at some point, hopefully, all of these steps will help you. But also, if you lead a team at the moment and you’re a manager, I’m going to talk about how to actually get the most from your team to set them up to actually nurture their skills and set them up for leadership and management in the future as well. So firstly, I’m going to take on a little journey for a minute or two, and hopefully, this will sound familiar to many of you.

So when you start off in your career, you might be a graduate, you’re an intern in of kind of entry-level role, and you’ve got all these different opportunities, so all the different directions you can go in, different ways you can focus, different places you can work around the world, all these different kinds of opportunities. So you get some experience. So it could be marketing, it could be design, but you start to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.

So if you’re starting to get into development, you may think, well, actually, I’m really enjoying front-end dev, not back-end dev, so you start to lean towards that a little bit. So you start to specialize in a certain area, and you really focus on that area. And then, hopefully, you get better at it even more hopefully you start to get good. And eventually, when you do it more and more, maybe a few years go by, you get really good.

Now, for some people, they’ll probably end up becoming the best in their team or even their company at this particular specialism, this particular set of skills related to their role, so again, design, UX, dev, engineering. It could be anything, but you become one of the best, if not the best, in your team and your company. And at that point, you may go to your manager or speak to your people around you and say, well, what’s next?

I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing. I want to keep being a good designer or developer. But what else is there? What else can I do?

Unfortunately, some of the answers from some managers and companies are like, do you want to manage a team? Is that what you want to do next? Do you want to start managing people?

And you might start to do that. So you manage a team, but you’re managing a team who are doing the thing that you got very good at in the first place. So if you’re a designer, you’re now managing a team of designers.

So all of a sudden, you have to get very good very quickly at management because you’ve now got a team that’s been thrust upon you. Now, the key thing here is you have to get good at it very fast because unlike learning your skill, your discipline, where you’ve got potentially years to get really good and refine it, once you get given a team, you instantly have to be a good manager to support that team. And, of course, there’ll be forgiving. They’re not going to expect everything from day one, but essentially, you become a manager almost right away, and you have to learn very, very quickly.

But it’s also a difference between management and leadership, so you have to learn to become a leader as well. Without getting too much into the details, management is what I think about more processes and helping people develop day-to-day stuff. But that’s the kind of thing that might have been done before.

You’ve got processes, you’ve got precedent there, whereas leadership is more about, well, what happens when the situation comes up and you’ve never faced it before, and you have to figure it out. And there’s no one telling you, well, just do this or follow that process. So there is actually a subtle but important difference between managing people and leading them, and you have to learn to do both.

And what also happens is you end up doing less of the thing that got you to this point in the first place. So again, if you’re a developer or an engineer, you had a career of doing those things. And at this point, you’re not actually doing as much of it as you’re used to because your time is split between that side of your role but also managing a team of people doing that thing as well.

So you end up doing less of the thing that got you to this point in the first place, which is a little bit weird. Hence, what got you here won’t get you there. So you’ve got to this point in your career where you’ve moved through the ranks, you’ve become very good, but all the things you’ve done along that process aren’t necessarily the things that are going to help you become a great leader and a great manager from this point forward.

So that’s a little bit broken. I don’t think that’s very optimal. And we want to talk about, and we’re going to talk about how to actually overcome that because this path not being very optimal is very common.

A lot of companies are–

I’ve spoken to a lot of friends who run companies. It’s actually quite a common thing for this path to be followed.

And part of the problem is we might management the only way for someone to progress. So again, when you become really good at your job, and you get one of the best people in your company, management is normally the default option for people to fall into, to progress, to become more senior, get more experience, earn more money. Management is normally the way to go.

However, most career paths don’t prepare people to become leaders because most people’s career paths are focused on their discipline. And the truth is as well, unfortunately, that not everyone can be a great leader or a great manager. In the same way, not everyone can be a fantastic designer, developer, copywriter, marketer.

Some people just naturally aren’t suited. None of us. And the same is true of management and leadership.

And part of the reason for this is, excuse me, we make a flawed assumption about people, and that everyone can learn to be competent in just about anything. So we think about this idea. You have your strengths. You have your weaknesses. Oh, I’ll just fix your weaknesses, and that’ll bring you up to a good level of competence.

So if it turns out you’re weak at management–

it’s not something you can just easily fix in maximum competent in–

because actually none of us can actually be competent at absolutely everything.

But this matters a lot when it comes to managing people because all of a sudden, you’ve got a team of people relying upon you and needing you for their development. So unlike your own path, until this point, where you’re focusing on probably a fixed set of projects, a fixed set of disciplines and skills, where you’re mostly the one that will be directly affected if things go wrong, now if you’re not at least competent as a manager, you’re affecting a lot of people, potentially not just your own career or your own ambitions.

And the truth is, as well, that we’re all a bit delicate. Many of us are delicate souls. We don’t like to admit it, but every single one of us are.

And every single one of us in this room at this event today, we’ve all got these really, really annoying things that can make management more challenging, more difficult. And actually, Suzanne just talked about some of these.

Emotions. We’ve all got egos. We’ve all got ambitions.

These three things make us hard to manage. So if you combine an average manager or a barely competent manager with those three things, ambitions, egos, and emotions–

do you get it?

I actually went on Shutterstock and searched for Messi with the correct spelling, and that’s what came up. So I was like, oh, it’s a sign. So if you work at Shutterstock, I can help you with that.

But yeah, it gets really messy straight away, and I’ve got Lionel Messi into a slide eventually after 10 years. So it doesn’t have to be like this. It really doesn’t.

I also decided to lose my voice last night doing a run-through of this talk, so I apologize.

We didn’t have to be like this at all. And this is what we want to focus on today because those steps in someone’s career progression from intern entry-level role right up to potentially being a manager that is actually where they develop their leadership strengths. That is exactly where they start to become a leader.

We’re just not conditioned to really look for them at that point in their career. We don’t look to spot them, let alone nurture them and pull them out and develop them, because we don’t pay enough attention until they’re actually a manager. So up until that point, you focused on lots of different things because we spend most of our time focusing on their core discipline, which is fair.

If someone is a designer or a marketer, you want them to be the best designer and marketer they can be. So you spend most of your time developing them and developing yourself into those things in that particular skills. We don’t spend time thinking about, well, this person could be a manager one day, let’s actually harness some of their strengths to enable them to be a better manager when that time comes.

So what makes a good leader? Let’s talk about some of the attributes that we could be looking for along that process. First one, probably one of the most important for me personally and what I look for in my team, is ownership.

I’m looking for my team to not be afraid of grabbing ownership of problems as well as solutions, standing up and saying, OK, I’m going to do that. I’m going to fix that.

Related to that, accountability. You can’t be a great leader if you’re afraid of taking accountability for your own actions, your own outputs, your results, and those of your team as well. Great managers aren’t afraid of accountability.

Empathy. So when teams come to you with problems, when they’re struggling with something, and you’re not really sure why, you have to be empathetic towards them to put yourself in their position and think, oh yeah, I get it. Even if it’s not your own experience, you have to be able to put yourself in that position to understand their experience.

We touched upon emotions earlier. And again, Suzanne touched upon this as well. I really liked that part of Suzanne’s talk where emotions, if you block them out and ignore them and don’t bring them into the workplace, they can actually work against you.

So as a manager, it’s really important to have emotional intelligence because I don’t think emotions can just stop when you walk into an office or walk onto a Zoom call. We’ve all got them. You can’t block them out, and they can be used in a positive way as well. A good manager knows exactly how to do that because they are emotionally intelligent.

A great manager isn’t afraid of modeling their influence as well. So up until you become a manager, your influences on your own projects, your own team around you, your peers, and you’re kind of a small part of what the company does.

When you become a manager, your influence is across your whole team. So if you manage 10 people, that’s 10 people who you can influence, and their careers, their results, their projects they work on, you can influence all of them. And great managers want to do that.

They’re also not afraid to generalize. And what I mean by that is if you’ve become, say, a great designer up until this point or a great engineer when you become a manager, you can’t keep that same level of learning as you might have had up until this point. So if you’re learning about engineering and development, at some point, that learning has to slow down just a touch because you’re taking on other stuff in your role, management, leadership, learning to be a better manager. So you can’t keep going at the same level as you might have done before.

And that’s fine. Managers don’t mind that. Ego is a big one.

The worst managers are often the ones who can’t put their ego to one side for the sake of their team and their company. And part of that comes down to not always wanting to be the smartest person in the room or wanting to be the best at what they do. So a great manager can take their ego out of the equation and think, well, my team should be better than me. All of these things.

This happened to me early in my career, and it was painful because I suddenly realized that my team was much better than me, SEO and digital marketing. I go, oh shit.

This isn’t great. I’ve taught them this stuff, and now they’re better than me.

I felt like I was falling behind. And it took me a long time to realize that’s actually a good thing. That’s what you want because you want your team to excel beyond where you are.

Great managers also reframe personal success. So again, up until the point of being a manager, your personal success is about your own work, your own results, your own projects, that kind of stuff. Whereas when you are a manager, personal success means your team doing those things, not necessarily you. And also, it means that, in theory, you should be able to step away from your team, and they keep excelling. So if you’re on holiday for two weeks and your team falls over, that’s a failure. Managers should be able to step away from their team, and success means that the team keeps going to keep doing their job.

They also care a lot about a culture because culture of a team is mostly intangible. You can’t really see. You can’t feel it too much physically. But good managers know the importance of it, and they know the importance of having a really good culture that pushes the team in the right direction.

And finally, they understand diversity. They understand the value of having team members from diverse backgrounds different experiences, that kind of stuff. And they don’t fight it. They try to embrace it.

So those are a bunch of things that we’ve talked about in the context of what makes a great manager. I’m not sure if some of you have noticed something with those things. Those aren’t bad things to have, regardless of being a manager, ownership, accountability, taking your ego out of the equation.

Everyone can have these attributes, and anyone can display those kinds of leadership traits. Becoming a leader is a slightly different thing, but anyone can display those traits. If you employ an intern fresh out of school, or college, or uni, they can show ownership.

They can show accountability. They can show that they want to be part of a team. They can put their ego to one side.

They can start to show those things. No matter how experienced you are, everyone’s got the ability to have them. And they aren’t magically switched on when someone becomes a manager.

These things don’t automatically think, oh yeah, I’m going to take ownership now, I’m going to be accountable now. So those things don’t magically happen.

So our job or your job, if you’re someone who wants to step up in your career, is to spark and nurture these attributes before someone becomes a manager. Because most people, this doesn’t happen.

This is a Twitter poll that I ran the other day. Only about 80 people or so, but still, 85% of people who answered said they had no leadership training at all before they became a manager. We don’t, luckily enough, and actually, that’s the perfect point to do it.

So this is what we want to focus on for the last 10, 15 minutes or so, which is a framework to develop leaders. So again, if you are currently a manager, you can use this for your team around you. If you’re an individual, you can use this to step up in your career to become a leader from a specialist.

OK, cool. So it works on the idea that we’re in control of two things, developing strengths, whether that’s your team or your own. We can do that. We can work on our strengths and our weaknesses and creating the right environment to thrive. So whether that’s team-wise or yourself as an individual, we can create the right environment to give us the best shot at doing our best work.

So let’s focus on the strengths first. First, I just wanted to mention this is a book I read many years ago now that I highly recommend. And the reason I mention it here is because I’m going to talk a lot about focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. And a big premise of this book is the idea that we spend most of our time when developing ourselves, actually trying to fix weaknesses rather than focusing on strengths. And it makes a pretty compelling case.

Actually, you shouldn’t ignore your weaknesses, but you should spend much more time working on your strengths than trying to fix all of your weaknesses because, again, the premise is you can’t fix them all. You can’t be competent in everything. So focus on your strengths. And also, remember, if you hire people into your team, you hire them usually based on their strengths that you see in that process of the interview, and immediately, you might want to fix their weaknesses. That’s not the best way to get the best out of people.

But strengths is a little bit random.

It’s a bit of what does it actually means. It doesn’t really make sense as a word on its own, so we’re going to break it down into talents, knowledge, and skills. These are three core components that make up a strength and make a strength much more concrete so that we can then work on it and develop strengths in a really methodical way.

So firstly, talents it’s natural recurring patterns of thoughts or behavior and feelings. And essentially, it’s the things that come naturally to us. Now, whether you use the word talent or semantics or something else, that’s absolutely fine, but essentially, it’s the things that are very natural to us that we don’t even think about.

So for example, if you’re unnaturally persistent or charming or patient, responsible, competitive, these are the kinds of things that come naturally to some people but not so naturally to others. But when they come to you, so naturally, they feel like common sense. So if you are a competitive person, it just feels like, well, yeah, of course, I’m competitive. Are you not?

And that can actually lead to frustrations because if you are, say, very inquisitive and the person sitting next to you on a team isn’t inquisitive, you can kind of think what? Why? How can you not be inquisitive about this? How can you not be competitive? They feel very natural to us.

And that makes them very hard to teach. You can’t just pick up a book and learn how to be inquisitive or how to be persistent. They’re really hard to teach, and that’s because they’re not very tangible. Again, you can’t just grab it, pick it up, and learn it, and you’re done.

However, they’re vital, even though they’re not. They’re not tangible, even though they’re hard to teach. Even though you don’t always understand how people work, they are absolutely vital.

And an example here is going to the world of sports.

Michael Jordan, one of the best, if not the best, basketball players of all time, he may not have gotten to that point if he wasn’t so competitive, competitive with himself and trying to be better, trying to improve, never giving up on training and stuff like that. But also, his team around him and dragging them up to a higher standard probably would have been a very, very, very good player. But being one of the best in the world wouldn’t have come without persistence and being competitive and lots of other natural talents that just came naturally to him.

And that’s because they’re hard-wired, and that makes them enduring. So if you are someone who is naturally competitive right now, and you switch jobs, switch careers, you’re still going to be competitive in whatever you do next. They’re hardwired, and they stick around.

That’s because they’re the strongest connections in our brains. They’re the things that just come very naturally, and you don’t even think about them. And that’s also because it’s the path of least resistance in your brain. Again, so there’s no blockers and thinking, oh, I’m not going to be competitive. It’s something that just happens without even thinking about it.

So that was talents. So second component of a strength is knowledge. This is far more straightforward, such things that you learn, facts, lessons, so books, courses, videos, hopefully, conferences, presentations. Fingers crossed.

But there’s two types of knowledge, so one is factual. So that’s content, so things I just described like books, courses, things that are quite tangible. You can watch a video about something, and learn some facts, get some knowledge.

So factual knowledge is exactly that.

But factual knowledge doesn’t guarantee excellence. So for example, you can read how to drive a car. You can watch a video on how to drive a car. You can watch a video.

There’s plenty of them around how to drive a Formula One car. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be excellent at it. But unless you can drive a car in the first place, you’re not going to be excellent at driving a Formula One car. That just can’t happen.

So you need the facts. You need the factual knowledge as a basis to work from. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be excellent, but you can’t be excellent without that basis of knowledge in the first place.

And the second kind of knowledge is experiential, so experiences, as the name implies. So this kind of knowledge can only be acquired through lots of experiences over and over and over again. And you pick it up along the way with this kind of knowledge. It’s not something you just pick up and go, I’ve got experience in this now, I’m done. It’s something that happens over time and happens naturally, and you pick things up along the way.

So those of you that maybe work at agencies, or you work in-house, and you’ve got stakeholders. So [INAUDIBLE]

your staff are in a meeting at an agency, and you’ve got a client there, and they’re not really saying that they’re unhappy, but you kind of know that they’re not. They’re not outwardly unhappy, but you know something’s not right.

That’s the kind of knowledge that comes from experience of probably hundreds of client meetings that you’ve been sat in where you just pick up on things that aren’t said, or you pick up on tone, you pick up on subtle stuff. That’s experiential knowledge. That’s how you pick it up.

And finally, skills. So skills are essentially steps of an activity that lead to a performance, and that’s done through deliberate practice, so doing something over and over and over again, following processes, following steps. That’s how you acquire skills.

And it helps you avoid trial and error. So doing a process over again and learning it inside out means you don’t make the same mistakes each time that you do that thing. Now again, you can learn to drive a car or Formula One car by following the steps.

So in a normal car, you get in, you put your belt on, you turn on your engine, take the handbrake off, put it in gear, all that kind of stuff. You can just follow steps.

It doesn’t mean you’re going to be very good at it or a very good driver.

You can do all of those things, but you could be a terrible driver and crash into something even though you followed all of those steps because skills can’t make up for a lack of talent. You need that combination in order to get the most out of your skills.

So for example, if you’re not very persistent, you’re probably not going to be that great at sales, particularly if it’s outbound cold sales, that kind of stuff. You’re probably not going that great if you’re not persistent. If you’re not competitive, you’re probably going to struggle at most competitive sports.

Bringing it back to management, if you’re not very patient, you’re probably not going to be a great manager because there are times, as I know too well, my hairline tells me where I lose my patience, and I think, oh come on, come on, you got this. Don’t. What are you doing? You’re not being a great manager if you can’t really impatience and be that person.

And also, one of the examples that I like to use here is a doctor can learn skills, learn knowledge, get experience. But would you also like a doctor looking after you that doesn’t just know how to do things and it’s got skills but actually gives a shit about you and actually cares, has that kind of nature and natural tendency to ask how are you doing? Are you OK? Can I help? Can I improve things?

You want someone who’s got all of those things. Let’s bring them together a little bit. None of this means, and I don’t want this to be a takeaway, that you’ve either got something or you haven’t.

That’s definitely not the takeaway here because someone can be good without lots of talent. So you can be a perfectly good basketball player or football player or golfer without loads and loads of talent, but you’re probably not going to be great if you haven’t got the fundamental talents required for that particular skill or that particular discipline, that particular practice because skills are most valuable when combined with talent. And I know this very well because I’m a horrifically bad golfer. I’m not really a golfer. I swing a club every so often at a driving range.

But the skill of golfing, you can learn it. You can pick it up. But it’s a talent that reveals how often you can do it and how well you can do it.

So how many times out of 100, you can hit the ball straight and 300 yards? For me, very, very little. It’s my talent that plays a massive part in my ability to do that, even though I can follow steps on how to actually play golf in the first place.

So those are strengths, talents, knowledge, and skills. Those are the three things we can focus on. So where can you start with these things? How can you actually develop these for your team or for yourself as an individual?

Firstly, there’s so many ways. I’m just going to give you three or four each one. But yeah, there’s tons of things you can do here, but for talent, so trying to pull out those natural tendencies. So this is really important.

So the first thing you have to do is identify the kinds of talents you want for managers in your organization or your team. That’s really important because every organization is different. So the kinds of talents that you may want in your team will differ based on your company versus mine versus another.

So if you are, for example, a sales company, if you work pure outbound call sales, the kinds of talents that your managers need is going to be very different if you run a web development company. So you have to think about the kinds of talents that lend themselves well to managers in your company doing what you do.

Look inward as well as the talents that you’ve already got in your team. So look at your best managers, look at the ones that do a really good job, the ones that get the best out of their team, and just look at why and look at what do they do well that seems very natural to them.

And ask them the question, have you approached management? What the things are common sense to you? What frustrates you about how other people manage people?

You can look inward to get a lot of insight into what talents you can pull out. One way you can also do this is to watch for spontaneous reactions. So when you’re looking at managers around you, look at how they deal with pressure, look at how they deal with things going wrong or things going well, and look at their reactions.

Do they get frustrated? Do they get annoyed? Do they stay really cool, calm, and collected?

Do they think, OK, cool, let’s figure this out, let’s get on it and jump on a problem straight away? So they take a step back and think, OK, well, let’s take a minute, think about this, and come back later. Well, how do they actually deal with difficult situations? And those are the things you can use to identify their talents and work out what they’re naturally very good at.

Also, make a note of when someone gets genuine satisfaction, so not just kind of reactions that are necessarily negative, but also when someone’s happy and someone gets satisfaction from their role.

Well, why? What’s caused that? Because those are natural reactions.

These are things that happened. Those are hardwired, synaptic connections that we’ve got in our brains. These are all things that come out by doing these things. They’re things that show themselves, and that’s how you can start to develop them and find them.

For knowledge–

so when you’re trying to develop people’s knowledge, this sounds like a really basic one, but I’ve spoken to so many companies who don’t have this. Create a curriculum of content for your managers, so books, courses, recommended talks, videos, that kind of stuff.

And create a curriculum of content that lives on your Google Drive, on your wiki, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter what it is, intranet, and have it there for your managers to refer back to. And this is the important bit of this if you’re going to do it. Assign one experienced manager to upkeep it, to look after it, to maintain it, because the worst thing you’re going to do is put all that effort into putting it together, a year goes by, and it’s all out of date or not been updated, and people don’t really use it very much.

This is a really important one as well when it comes to that experiential knowledge. So the first couple of are around factual knowledge, how to learn a kind of through content. This one’s more about experiences. So look for experiences to expose your managers to challenging situations. It doesn’t mean make their life hard or difficult or chuck them into the deep end and see if they can sink or swim, but look for situations that help them develop their experience.

So again, if you work at an agency and you’ve got a difficult client situation, help them deal with it themselves. Don’t, again, push them to one side and let them get on with it. Support them, but help them figure it out on their own as well.

And when those things do happen, share experiences between line managers. This is one of the best things that we did at Aira not too long ago, where we didn’t kind of name and shame the team or anything like that about difficult situations, but we got the line managers to talk about situations they’ve had that have been very difficult for them and how they’ve dealt with them because chances are that’s going to come up again for other line managers. So encourage them to chat to each other.

And again, if you’re a current line manager, speak to other ones and say, what’s the most difficult situation you’ve had as a manager? And get that experience from them as well. So skills so how to develop and enhance them.

Don’t be afraid of processes and systems. Don’t be afraid of actually putting them in place. I know that not every company likes the idea of process, but look at what you can find.

Look at those repeatable processes. And I’ve got an example in a second that I can show you to avoid simple mistakes being made document those processes. So that when you do bring new managers on board, they’ve got something there tangible to pick up and run with from day one and not having to start all over again.

So a couple of examples of those. We use personal development templates quite a bit. So we say to our managers, hey, develop your team however you want, make sure they’ve got plans, make sure they’ve got goals, that kind of stuff. But you do however you want to do it, but to help them along the way.

We provide a couple of templates, and different systems, different methodologies that they might want to use. So we’ve got the Think Big Act Small Move, a quick model. We’ve got a 3 by 2 person development model.

There’s a few different ways that you can do this, but managers can choose and use these to bridge that gap with their skills. Again, onboarding checklists, not just for logistics and laptops and office intros and stuff like that, but for trust and relationships and how to build those things up. We’ve got processes and templates to help us with that, to bridge that gap and mean that skills are acquired a lot quicker.

So in the last couple of minutes, how to create the right environment. So we’ve talked about how to develop skills and strengths and that kind of stuff, but you need the right environment as well. Now, the first thing to say is not every environment will be right for everyone, which is normal.

Not every culture is going to be right for you. Every company is a little bit different. But unfortunately, I’ve seen, particularly annoyingly in the digital agency world, people using that as a bit of a cop-out to actually blind them from underlying problems.

So using “we’re not for everyone” can’t be a default situation because it can stop you from recognizing problems, particularly around stress, burnout, anxiety. If you’ve got a culture that works hard, plays hard, fine. But think about whether that’s actually right across the board for everyone and whether it’s actually something you want your culture to be. So try and think about what’s in your company, in the kind of culture that you want, but don’t ignore underlying issues if they exist or if people keep giving you feedback.

One thing we use that creates the right environment for people to progress is clear and transparent career paths. So this is the one for an SEO who joins us as an executive on this side. They can work with all the way up to director and head of SEO there. And you can see it splits in the middle between manager and individual contributor.

So it can be a specialist, or you can be a manager. We try and let people go as far as they can without having to be a manager. So this visualizes out really clearly, every single discipline at Aira has this kind of path laid out for them. So it creates the environment when people know exactly how they can progress.

And each of those steps has expectation, roles, expectations tied to them as well. So you can see exactly how each one can be worked on by individuals. Communicate opportunities so if people are looking for a promotion, make sure they know about them, make sure they things are coming up, make sure they’re aware of what’s going on in the company. If you’re opening a new office, if you’ve got a new team being built, make sure you communicate with them because, again, it creates an environment where people can actually look for opportunities and go for them as well.

Invest into training. So that curriculum I told you about, this is a snapshot of ours where we’ve got slide decks, videos, intros, that kind of stuff. So invest into that, whether it’s internal or external, to create that environment for managers to learn very, very quickly.

Make your culture really concrete. So we’ve got a culture code online. People can go through it, read it, look at things like our values, our progression paths, how things work internally so they can actually figure that out and use it as leaders. And managers can use this to give their team direction.

And speaking of that, direction and vision, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the whole mission, vision value stuff. But direction as a company is very important, so providing that to your managers and asking for that as a manager helps you run your team in a way that’s aligned with the company.

And, like I said, expose people to real issues. Don’t wrap them in cotton wool.

I’ve made this mistake many times over the years where I’ve tried to protect people from problems, but actually, they learn best by feeling that tension, by feeling a little bit of pain sometimes, and figuring out how to overcome a big issue. So by all means, have their backs, trust them, support them, but don’t protect them too much. And finally, treat leadership skills with the same respect of specialism.

So if you are a design agency, and you want your team to be fantastic designers, and you invest in skills and training to do that, do the same for leadership and do the same for management. So finally, I’ll wrap up with three points. So proactively, develop your leaders or develop yourself before you’ve even touched management or start to step into that role.

Focus on developing strengths using talents, knowledge, and skills. You’ve got a framework to do that. Focus on those. Look at weaknesses, but don’t obsess over them.

And finally, look to create the right environment for your managers to thrive or for yourself to thrive. Look at what that means, look how you can do that, and look at the things that will enable you to be a great manager so you can go from being a specialist through to a leader. And that’s me done.

I’m at Paddy Moogan on Twitter, I’m not at the stage later, but I’m around here for 10, 15 minutes after this if you want to come out for a quick chat about management or talk about anything else related to marketing. Thanks for listening. Really appreciate it, and I hope to you chat to you all soon.

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