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Serve Your Clients and Colleagues with a Better Style of Leadership



Mike Isaacson – Senior Account Executive


Account executives (AEs) play a key role in establishing the culture and dynamic between clients and agency teams. As they navigate through the responsibilities of meeting client expectations, managing projects and fostering team collaboration, it can be difficult to effectively maintain positive working relationships. In these situations, the principles of servant leadership offer an easy guide to cementing healthy team dynamics and reinforcing productive communication practices.


Servant leadership is a management style that focuses on serving others first and leading second. The term was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf to emphasize empathy, collaboration and the well-being of team members. Applying these servant leadership principles in an agency setting creates a positive work environment, fosters trust and ultimately leads to better outcomes for clients and the agency as a whole.


  • Empathy and Understanding: By understanding the needs, concerns and aspirations of their clients, AEs can better align agency efforts with client objectives. Similarly, showing empathy towards the creative and account teams creates a supportive culture that boosts morale and productivity.

  • Active Listening: Servant leaders are adept at active listening – a skill crucial for AEs dealing with diverse stakeholders. By truly hearing and comprehending the perspectives of clients, team members and other participants, AEs can make more informed decisions for better strategic outcomes.

  • Clear Communication: Clear and transparent communication is essential in advertising. Servant leaders prioritize open and honest communication, creating an environment where untried concepts can grow into effective campaigns. AEs can apply this principle by fostering a culture of open dialogue, where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns.

  • Fostering Collaboration: Successful advertising campaigns require a collective effort from different departments. Servant leaders actively promote collaboration by breaking down barriers and encouraging cross-functional teamwork. Account executives can create a collaborative environment by facilitating regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions and knowledge-sharing initiatives.

  • Development and Growth: Servant leadership emphasizes the growth and development of each team member. AEs can take on a mentoring role, providing guidance and support to those around them. Recognizing and investing in the professional development of individuals enhances team performance and contributes to the long-term success of the agency/client business relationship.

The most successful AEs clearly demonstrate the values and behaviors they expect from their teams. AEs set the tone for a positive and collaborative work culture by embodying the principles of servant leadership in their own daily actions and decision making.


By embracing empathy, active listening, clear communication, collaboration and a commitment to development, AEs create a more positive and productive work environment that meets client expectations and fosters the growth and success of their teams. Even as advertising agencies evolve, the proven principles of servant leadership can help AEs build relationships that endure.

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