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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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What makes a successful management team?


This piece was written by Alison McSparron-Edwards, founder and managing director of Consultrix.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It is important for business owners to recognise this.

Although many people have different management and leadership skills, there are qualities that must be identified in order to culminate in a successful management team and therefore a successful business. It is also crucial to recognise that not all management types will get on with one another and although the reason why may not always be obvious, it is important that business owners are prepared for this and know how to rectify it.

Whilst leaders with different styles can be successful, there are qualities that all leaders, whatever industry, should have. Do the following qualities apply to you?

All good leaders have to:

  • Have a clear and compelling vision of the future
  • Be a great communicator
  • Be a team player
  • Work with individuals with complementary skills, i.e. not clones of each other
  • Be authentic
  • Be willing and capable of adapting their style as circumstances dictate
  • Have energy and a ‘can-do attitude’ even in adversity

From experience, I have discovered three key owner/manager types, particularly within the creative design industries, although these can be applied to every industry:

Type 1: The Creative Star (Think Ronaldo) – They focus on the creative process itself and are results-focused. For them, the aim is to generate great work that their peers can only aspire to. They are dynamic, fast paced and flamboyant risk takers. The clients love their work because it is unconventional, maverick, novel, ground-breaking and unique. They win awards for the big ideas that they generate.

Type 2: The Creative Supporter (Think Scholes) – They focus on client and consumer satisfaction and are driven to satisfy their client’s expectations. Great work satisfies the client, not their peers. They are considerate, steady, constant and stable. Clients love them because they are capable of working to the client's stated needs, rather than the creative output

With regards to creative businesses, quite often when they fail, it is not because of their preferred creativity style but because they had little understanding of the commercial realities of running a business.

The most successful businesses recognise the need to balance their creativity by employing good business practices and great commercial leaders to provide them with the support and back up facilities they desperately need.

Type 3: The Commercial Manger – (think Karren Brady, vice chairman of West Ham United and former MD of Birmingham City). They focus on the commercial reality of running a business. They are often driven, single minded, tough but fair. They know how to make the founders' vision and mission a reality. They build strategic and tactical business plans and make them happen, make tough decisions and understand the realities of balancing client expectations with commercial reality.

So, how do you know if you have the right management team to achieve your vision? Well, you can use a variety of tools to assess your current management’s performance and measure commercial success to date against your vision for the future. Our experiences shows that those who get it right achieve faster and stronger growth.

There are a wide variety of tools that can be used to assess current management performance including:

  • Individual and team analysis using: Individual and team psychometric tools and analysis and understanding of management behaviour in the light of, for example, Johari window and Covey’s 8 habits
  • Commercial and profit performance evaluations against peer agencies

These techniques are often found invaluable in helping businesses to understand their own and their colleagues’…

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Motivations (after all, we know money isn’t everything)
  • Success compared to peer businesses

Accepting that no one style is perfect or that there is always room for improvement is the key to greater growth and the generation of respect from your staff. Review yourselves, your styles and your team dynamics. Work out what and how to evolve, plan it and then follow it through and you will be amazed at the results!

Remember Karren Brady turned round Birmingham City Football Club's attendance from 6,000 to 25,000 in just eight years and then went on to float her club for £25,000,000 in 1997. What could you do if you got the balance right?

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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