An ancient cavalry men (horsemen or Asva Yoddha) – soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback took a central position in the war formation, immediately after the foot soldiers followed by war elephants. They had the ability to take the enemy foot soldiers by surprise, out-powering them by sheer speed, strength and advantage of height over an opponent on foot. They played a prominent role in winning tactical battles in the medieval period. Much similar to the Asva Yoddhas, in our business, we have managers who act as a mid-level fighter, face the client, work along with the media, manage his team, pull in support from his seniors and are the face for the accounts they manage. The only difference being; the Asva Yoddhas were mounted on powerful horses, while the managers’ ride on their experience, knowledge and expertise earned after working in the industry for 5-6 years.
In an agency, they are called Account Managers and at the corporate end they are known by different designations such as corporate communications managers, PR managers etc. These managers in their respective positions play a central role in building, managing, protecting and enhancing the reputation of the corporate brand or an individual they work for.
It is such an important role but as per industry leaders, there are just few good ones available with the range of skills required. Agencies and companies both lament the lack of truly talented PR professionals who are capable of managing a team (in-house or the agency team), are exceptional writers and also are brilliant at liaising with the all stakeholders. They are also expected to have solid research skills; understands business environment; are creative; imaginative and should have the ability to accept criticism and at times roll up their sleeves to get their hands dirty when required.
These managers are central to the corporate reputation management, who often work with young and not so experienced team of executives. In an agency environment, most of the times they are the single point contact for over 3-4 clients, while on the corporate side, all departments depend on them for their communications requirements. They are the ones who pull-in support from their seniors for strategizing and planning. They have to tactically manage company’s concerns, without compromising the agency’s interest and are expected to be hands-on as well be an expert at delegating work. Having excellent writing skills, ability to spot good story angles time and again to keep the company always at the vantage point from its peers are some of the must have skills.
To juggle such an enormous responsibility is not an easy task and there is always a risk of failing to deal with such tremendous job pressure, which usually percolates down to the team working along, leading to resistance and infighting.
So if you want to be that Super Manager who effortlessly not only manages but excels, you will have to master the art of strategic thinking, emotional intelligence and develop the passion for helping people do their best work, even in the face of diminished resources.
When managers think strategically, they are able to look at bigger picture and determine what of the many demands on their time will take a priority. Time and again, you will have to keep moving yourself out from the tactical activities by delegating and empowering your team and use the time to come out with solutions that will make the clients sit back and listen. Set processes for self that will keep you on top of things, while also give you enough time to strategize and think broader aspects of account management.
With emotional intelligence, you can help your teams recover from setbacks and frustration while using targeted feedback to encourage their progress. (Remember, feedback is a renewable resource that costs managers nothing and pays great dividends.) Trust your team members and let them stretch and discover newer boundaries of their capabilities.
Develop passion to work with people – your team members as well as your clients. Accept the short-comings and build on the team’s strength, use resources where they are best suited at. Develop a balanced friendly relationship, which is not too intrusive nor it portrays you as a ‘people pleaser.’ Party when it calls for celebration and also reprimand when required. With clients you need to develop trust and credibility. When people trust you, they will be more inclined to listen to your advice. Trust fosters collaboration, which contributes to openly sharing information, which then creates a solid team who supports each other. Be honest with your clients, promise what you can deliver and deliver at any cost what was promised.
These capabilities are not built overnight or the moment you are promoted to the position of a Manager. You need to start developing these traits, right from the time you individually start managing accounts at the Executive level. You should proactively start taking more responsibilities, while working along with your managers and start owning the account. Constantly learn and challenge yourself to achieve more, be the resource that every manager would love to have in his team.