Leader or zoo keeper? You kind of need to be both

We all know the responsibility that comes with leadership. Leaders, through their actions, behaviors, and results, set the tone for everyone else in an organization. What we have to remind ourselves of from time to time is that being a leader isn't about a title.

Maybe it's for lack of the title that most agencies don't always think of their producers as leaders. Or maybe its because, all too often, producers aren't acting like leaders – you know, taking the right action, demonstrating the right behaviors, and driving the right results. Well, just because a producer isn't acting like a leader, or would even prefer to not be a leader, that doesn't excuse him/her from the responsibilities that come with being a leader.

By nature of the fact that they are most responsible for driving the growth of an agency, producers are put in a leadership role. I compare it a little to the role model responsibility that comes with being a professional athlete. They may have not signed up to be a role model, but it comes with the job. Similarly, producers may not sign up to be a leader, but it also comes with their jobs.

Leading the leaders

This puts the formal leader in a precarious spot. After all, they are the leader of the leaders, right? And the way they deal with the actions/behaviors/results of these producer-leaders determines the level of respect they will earn for their own leadership skills.

I heard one agency owner explain his strategy for dealing with his producer-leaders. In his agency, nobody was held to a higher standard. His strategy speaks for itself.

  • We feed the Tigers.
  • We tend the Sheep.
  • We shoot the Dogs.

Most agencies, however, have one way they deal with all of their producers. That strategy also speaks for itself.

  • We take a hands-off approach.

I've seen the results that happen from both strategies. I'm sure its no surprise: the rest of the team will rise/fall to meet the performance expectation the organization sets for its leaders.


Photo by tiero.