The boss is dead, long live the boss

You don't get to the top without making a few enemies. Says who? While this approach to leadership was once, perhaps still is, considered an acceptable pay-off for the tough decisions needed in business, to me, it feels like turning a blind eye.

It is a style of leadership that is about treading on those that you consider matter less than you do in order to secure both your success (first and foremost) and that of the business (second).

Campaign is filled with examples of great leadership – as well as upcoming talent (New Directors’ Showcase) – including a profile of the universally popular Tess Alps, who has just been awarded the Mackintosh Medal by the Advertising Association.

Alps is the embodiment of a successful leader who has made their mark without being a shit. The best piece of advice she ever received? "Somebody told me that you can only lose your integrity once."

Leaders with a moral compass that helps steer their decisions? Yes please, more of that. Unfortunately, role models in the workplace aren’t always easy for us to find.

Humblebrag alert: when I won the magazine industry’s award for new team leader just before I went on maternity leave two years ago, I became more conscious of what makes a leader. I felt both a renewed responsibility to my team and their needs, but also became more aware of the qualities of the many industry leaders I encounter week to week. 

I’m always looking to pick up tips from the best of you out there. Of course, the reverse is also true. There are invaluable lessons to be learned from those leaders who fail to inspire: what not to do, how not to act or treat people – these are all areas that can help you grow as an individual.

I have learned so much, from both the good and the bad. One simple but essential point is to be yourself (I can thank our very own Claire Beale for that one!) and allow others to have the freedom to be themselves, too.

Annette King is also one to call it as she sees it, albeit with a good dose of bawdy humour (although I’m not sure you get the nickname AK-47 without making a few enemies…).

We sat down with King, now a couple of months into her new job at the helm of Publicis Groupe UK, to sound out her approach to creative leadership. Unlike some more corporate-style leaders, with King, what you see is what you get – and her blend of serious and fun marks her out from her peer group. As Jeremy Lee writes, there’s no politicking or insincerity.

Put King, with her enthusiasm, energy, work rate and sense of fun, in front of a bunch of school-leavers or graduates, and the industry’s perceived recruitment problem would probably be solved overnight, he argues.

With Alps scaling great heights in our industry and King reigning over Publicis UK, perhaps we all just need empowering surnames we can live up to. For the Longbottoms et al out there, find role models like these two and you will be on the right course.

What makes for great leadership is changing. So, when reflecting on your business’ priorities – and, dare I say it, purpose – whatever you may think of his leadership style, it’s worth remembering a quote from Henry Ford: "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."



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