Media: A Moment with Marquis

Just back from Dublin, where I chaired the Media Circle Forum, a two-yearly gathering of media owner and agency senior players.

Whatever state our various markets are in this year (the general consensus is that they are tough), our industry bosses are in good heart, judging by the convivial mood of the participants. They were thoughtful, considered, concerned, even, about some of the issues our industry faces but - and this is the point - absolutely not downcast or despondent.

One of the many hard lessons I learned while holding senior management roles was that your mood speaks more eloquently to your people about how you feel about the business than any amount of all-staff memoranda or policy initiatives. Walk through that front door wearing a worried scowl and people look at you and think "aye, aye, something's up, the old bugger's none too happy". But keep a smile on your face, walk the floors and see how everyone is, tell them clearly what's going on and don't let the shit get you down, and your troops will go fearlessly over the top for you every time. That's how the forum delegates struck me: unbowed.

Looking back, I'm sure I spent too much of my time as a boss closeted in management pow-wows, agonising about the latest revenue figures or the upcoming repitch that we were bound to lose, when I could have been listening to my people and showing them I was bothered about them.

Be honest - maybe you agree with this, but don't you spend too much time in your office too? You aren't being the leader of the pack behind closed doors. You have to be out there among the planners and buyers and the bought-ledger team.

When you do get it right, the effect is magic. I remember one repitch that did indeed go tits-up and I had to tell the company we'd lost.

I sent an e-mail wearing my heart on my sleeve. "This has not been my best day in the business," I wrote. "I feel like a drink and you probably do too. My credit card is behind the bar from 5.30. Let's go and cheer ourselves up." Almost the whole agency turned up - and not just because the drinks were on me. We all felt like a group hug. Everyone I spoke to that evening said we'd get over the loss, no problem. And of course, thanks to their positive outlook, we did.

I realised there and then that being a good boss means being relentlessly positive. That, and remembering that, like your team, you're human too.

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