My Personal Pet Peeve
I have a pet peeve when it comes to the description of Account people at agencies. This department is often called “Account Management” or “Account Service”, both misnomers in my mind. Perhaps it is because I spent over 30 years as an account person, and I believed my role (and that of other great account people) was far more than that of a being a manager or a service person.
Managing is a necessary skill but is it enough?
Yes, a good account person must learn to manage – projects and people. But you need to learn this skill relatively early in your career as a account person. You must learn to manage budgets, and timetables and deliverables. It is an imperative skill that you must master before you move up the ladder. Yes, the budgets and scope of projects that you manage will get larger and more complex as you gain more seniority, but before you get handed those projects, you must prove your worth with smaller projects.
I like to think that good managers, no matter their level, know how to get “shit done”. That’s great, but is this the quality that is going to truly make you stand out and get you noticed in your agency and with your clients?
Account people do more than service an account
While some agencies refer to the account team as Account Management, other agencies call it Account Service. Like being a good manager, providing great service is a foundational element of being a good account person. But once again, the role is not only about service. When you google service and account service, here’s what comes up at the top of the page:
Definition of “Service”:
Noun: the action of helping or doing work for someone.
Verb: perform a service or services for (someone)
Definition of “Account Service”:
Account services is a business function where employees manage the experience of customers and clients. … A primary role of the account services department is to communicate with clients and to resolve problems.
Ok, it’s hard to argue that all of these definitions are part of the role of an agency account person. But again, doesn’t a great account person do more than “help or do work for someone” or “communicate with clients and resolve problems”?
What about Leadership?
In my experience, great account people, those that go on to lead global businesses or run agencies, are more than managers or service people. They are leaders.
An effective leader is a person who has the ability to create an inspiring vision of the future. A leader motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision – within the agency and externally with clients. A leader coaches and builds a team, that includes his/her clients, so the team is more effective at achieving the vision. Good leaders may go about how they lead — there is no one style of leadership – but the one thing that all leaders have in common is they have followers.
Bottom line, leaders have qualities that go beyond getting “shit done”. They bring clarity; they are decisive; they have courage, passion and humility. And they are not afraid to show some vulnerability at times. The best leaders know how to show their humanity.
With this in mind, why don’t we strive for more with Account Management or Account Services and call this department Account Leadership? Isn’t this a bar worth reaching for with your people?
For more information on how to build account leaders, please contact me at [email protected] or leave a comment below.