One of the first lessons that I learned as a Dad is that while my words mattered, my actions trumped those words every time. My daughter watched every choice, every action and inaction, every moment – and whether I liked it or not, mimicked me.

The realization that I was a constant learning lab actually trained me to make some different choices, like wearing a seat belt which I’d never done consistently, simply because I wanted to model that behavior (and because she was a nag about it!)

This same truth holds true in your agency and in creating an “Agency Management System” within your shop. Your employees, the ones who are the carriers of your brand’s spirit to your clients, vendors and prospects, observe you every day. We think of our brand as a logo or tagline but our agency brand comes alive in our words and actions, both internally and with our clients.

Are you consciously modeling the behavior that you’d like to see your team adopt? Whether you like it or not – your actions will be reflected in every interaction your employees have. Is that good news or not so much?

How do you talk about your customers? Even your agency’s best clients can be frustrating sometimes. Maybe they’re being unusually indecisive or making a million little changes that are going to push you off budget. Or, they might be under a lot of pressure from their boss and you’re bearing the brunt of that situation. When that happens – how do you sound? Do you grumble about them or do you help your employees remember that this is the person who helps all of you pay your mortgages?

How do you keep getting better? You probably push your employees to keep getting smarter, better and better informed. That’s no small task. But are you modeling that behavior? Are you reading something new every week? Do you have reliable industry sources that you track and share? Do you actively look for workshops that push you to stretch yourself and force you to sharpen the saw?

How do you talk to your clients and employees? Everyone is busy and sometimes clients or members of your staff don’t choose the most convenient moments to have a question or concern. Are you able to truly put aside whatever you’re doing and really listen to what they’re saying? Are you typing or stealing glances at your computer screen while they’re talking? Does your email’s constant dinging and pinging keep drawing your attention?

How do honor promises? Are you constantly missing deadlines or delivering your part of the work at the very last minute? Are you forcing co-workers or clients to scramble to meet their own deadlines because you’re not as prepared as you should be? Or are you good about keeping the team on task and on time? Do you offer to lend a helping hand or deliver a little something extra?

How do you reflect gratitude? This is admittedly my own bias but I believe that a business leader that genuinely appreciates the hard work of their team, the trust of their clients and the respect of their peers is someone who will be given even more good fortune. People are drawn to others who are truly grateful and find ways to express it every day.

This is leadership — and — an agency management system at a very high level — whether you are the official leader of your crew or you’re leading from the middle of the pack. How you behave and what you say sets the tone for how everyone else on your team will reflect those attitudes to the audiences that matter most to your business.

It’s like they’re your interpreter – are you happy with how they’re translating?