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I’ve been reflecting on leadership and what it takes to be a good leader recently. I can trace this train of thought very easily back to its origin. I have a friend working in a start-up. The idea for the start-up is great, they have clients, they’re getting funding, but things are falling apart. Once a month, things seem to grind to a halt while everyone deals with the latest drama – changes, firings, or some other traumatic event.

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When asked, this friend points a finger straight to the top. “The CEO surrounds himself with yes-men and fires anyone who doesn’t think exactly like he does.” Yeesh, sounds like a good way to make enemies, doesn’t it?

Things at 3Q aren’t always rosy. There’s the occasional storm, but things typically work out for the best at 3Q, and the storms are remarkably short. Why? What makes the approach at 3Q so much more effective than the one at my friend’s fledgling company?

Experience

Part of the problem for my friend’s company is leadership’s lack of experience. The company (and its employees) are all pretty green, and not all of them are rising to the challenges of running a company.

3Q Digital prides itself on running a meritocracy. People get promoted when they’ve proven that they’ve earned a leadership role. In some cases, they’re already leading a team (at least in some initiatives) when they get promoted. If you meet a manager at 3Q, you can be confidently sure that they know how to manage, which is not something that can be said for every company.

Innovation

You can build the best ship in the entire world, but your trip is going to eventually come to an end if you never change course. If you sail straight, you’ll eventually hit land, and your trip will be over. Businesses that stick to the same tried-and-true formula often have a rude awakening as markets change and sales dry up.

Leadership at 3Q has already seen land coming on the horizon and adjusted course. It’s a long ways off, but as our CEO, David Rodnitzky (one of the most influential figures in SEM for over 15 years), noted, the SEM agency (at least as we’ve known it so far) is dying. We’ve been working on repositioning 3Q for a while now, and we’re making great strides towards that goal. We’ve got experts in mobile, analytics, SEO, CRO, and Social, meaning that we can take a more holistic view of digital marketing. Thanks to this foresight, 3Q Digital won’t be dying along with all of the SEM-only shops.

Listen to the people

Many of my blog posts make allusions to transparency, and there’s a really good reason for that: it’s a core value at 3Q Digital. When it comes to clients, the attitude is to be as transparent as possible in tough situations, whether you think they’re making the wrong decision or you made a mistake. This applies to the leadership at 3Q as well. We’re always welcome to talk with them 1-1, and I know I’ve personally asked them some pretty harsh questions and always came away with acceptable answers.

Any time there’s a company-wide announcement, we’re encouraged to reach out to our direct managers or the executive team with concerns or clarifications. The nice thing is that they actually mean for us to do that! It’s not an empty promise. I’ve had 1-1s with our CEO, and we didn’t just make small talk. I asked some hard questions and got real answers. That sort of attitude would be refreshing, if it hadn’t become the standard for me during my time at 3Q.