05 March 2020
The Women in Food & Agriculture Summit is a platform for senior female executives in the food and agriculture industry to come together and discuss ideas for the future. As part of the most recent summit I organized a workshop that would help attendees in defining personal leadership styles and how to best motivate younger professionals as a leader. The workshop was an eye-opening experience and provided insight into the leadership qualities of women. There were a few key discussion points that gleaned insights applicable to our marketing day-to-day.
Your leadership style can not only determine how you manage a team but how you generally work with your peers and with your own managers. Providing a small snapshot of the marketing industry, a huge 75% of employees leave their job because of their boss. Unsurprisingly, good leaders tend to be good bosses. Taking the time to learn about what leadership style you hold, and which styles tend to resonate best will allow you to suit your style for success. Increased job satisfaction is at play, which can be crucial to lift team spirit especially during campaign crunch time. Marketers need to be creative and being stifled by an incompatible boss can hinder the quality of this creativeness.
The most prominent leadership style present in the session came in the form of ‘Democratic Leadership’ which emphasizes collaboration – unsurprising given it’s often reported that women do tend to lean towards a democratic style of leadership more so than their male counterparts. However, many of the session’s participants felt they couldn’t make the decisions they wanted to as their boss’s leadership style was countering theirs and halting development.
And despite democratic styles of leadership having certain benefits, many participants aspired to be more transformational. If looking towards a transformational style, it’s worth to note that transformation is a lot harder to pull off than traditional change efforts – there's a time and a place for transformation so picking up that leadership style might be a mistake long-term but might make sense to adopt during transitional phases.
One prevalent concern expressed particularly by the younger participants in the room was that of Imposter Syndrome. Attendees said they questioned whether they were good enough for the jobs they were in and it highlighted a real confidence gap. Despite feeling empowered and ambitious, women in the room were scared to act confident due to the risk of being perceived as arrogant.
They were also concerned about making the ‘wrong choice’ when it came to their career and what to do if you take the wrong job and feel stuck.
Many in the room wanted to see examples of dual career couples, stating that most of what they’d seen had involved relationships where one partner, be it male or female, having to take the back seat while the other carved out a successful career. Millennials look to be the dual career couples of the future but don’t feel like they necessarily have examples to look towards.
Millennials are most likely to switch jobs and are the least engaged in the workplace4 and as the fastest growing generation taking up marketing and advertising jobs in the UK5 it’s important leaders understand what makes this generation tick to keep employment in the industry thriving.
Having a guided understanding of how you lead is a pivotal step in running a successful team. Without this knowledge you put employee satisfaction at risk and expose yourself to unnecessary fallouts and project slowdowns.
Finding and retaining quality team members is a problem felt industry-wide. Being mindful of the make-up of your team will help to better recognize prospective hires that are more likely to thrive, help you to tailor your internal communications increasing effectiveness and build better campaign teams to drive the best results.