As an agency owner — do I lead the work or do I lead the agency? This is a twist on the working in versus on the agency. Where do you want to be spending your time? Where does your agency need you to spend your time?

For more information about Drew McLellan or Agency Management Institute – visit http://www.agencymanagementinstitute.com or check out the podcast – Build A Better Agency available at all the usual podcast host locations.

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Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here with Agency Management Institute. This week I am coming to you from Phoenix, Arizona. I have worked like a dog this week but this weekend, I am headed to the Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox series and I am psyched. One of the things that I love about my work is that I get to have the freedom to do these sorts of things because I have people back in my shop who run the day to day work. And what I want to talk to you about this week in this video is that topic. All of us, as business owners, can either lead the work or we can lead the agency, but we cannot do both. So here’s what I want you to think about, I want you to test yourself to see, am I, week in, week out, day in, day out, am I leading the work or am I leading the agency? So here’s some tests that you can run to see which one is true. First I want you to look at your calendar and I want you to look where the lion’s share of your time is spent. Is it in client meetings? Is it internal meetings around client work? Is it around delivery of the actual work? If so, you’re leading the work. If you’re spending a ton of time with your clients or thinking about your clients or doing work on behalf of your clients you are leading the work. Does your calendar say that you can time carved out to do planning? To be thinking about how you drive the mission and vision and values into your agency in a way that people understand them, that they live them, that they get rewarded for them? Are you spending time mentoring your team members, are you helping them grow in terms of both their skillsets, but also their professional acumen? Are you available for people when they need to run a thorny problem by someone? Again, professional development and mentorship? Are you working on the vision of your agency six months from now, 12 months from now, and figuring out what you have to do today to be that agency in six months or 12 months? And are you investing a ton of time in biz dev growing the business, attracting your sweet spot clients? There’s nothing wrong with you leading the work and there’s nothing wrong with you leading the agency. There is something very wrong when you try to do both because both of those jobs only get a part of you. Both of those jobs only get part of your attention, your focus. So here are a couple other litmus tests: When you go on vacation, can you actually unplug? Does client work just chug along through your shop when you are not around? Or are people constantly texting you or emailing you or are you sending your family out to learn how to surf while you’re finishing a proposal or proof reading something that your people have to send out to a client today? If so, you’re leading the work, not the agency. And again, there’s nothing wrong with either choice. I believe there’s something fundamentally wrong when you don’t make a choice, when you don’t lean strongly in one direction or the other. I don’t know any agency owner that completely ignores the work and never meets with a client and never thinks about the client deliverables, but if that’s where you spend the lion’s share of your time then you’ve got to find someone else to lead the agency. Someone has to be doing the work that if you’re busy chasing after clients quite honestly just doesn’t get done. Who is thinking about the future of your agency? Who is growing your team? Who is making sure that the values and mission and vision of your shop is infused through the organization, that everyone not only understands it, but believes in it and would make sure that they deliver against it every single time? That work has to be done too and if you’re constantly in client meetings, you can’t be doing it. So the bottom line of this video message is pick a side. Choose where you want to apply your talents. I’m going to tell you that in most cases, you have unique gifts and unique experiences, and both work and life experiences, that set you up, and by the way, you own the joint, that set you up to lead the agency and that’s where most of you should be spending the lion’s share of your time, as you have heard me preach time and time again. But, if you are determined to lead the work, to stay inside the client work because that’s just what you love, well, you know what? You own the joint, you should get to do the work that you love to do, but then you cannot ignore the work that is not being done, you have to give that work to someone else and let them lead your agency because otherwise it’s rudderless and what you’re going to find is you’re leading the work in an agency that is smaller and less profitable year after year after year. So make sure you’ve got someone doing both, leading the work and leading the agency and be really clear and intentional about where you’re spending your time and where you think your time should be spent. All right? I’ll talk to you next week.

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