The Future of Agency Leadership in Leeds

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    • 5th November 2018

    Following a leader is enjoyed by 76.2% of employees, while bad leadership leaves 40% of employees feeling demotivated, as the latest CV Library report shows. To be a key contender in the Leeds agency landscape, good leadership is essential.

    In a fast-paced agency life, this can be challenging as leaders need to adapt to the new needs of both customers and staff. As a marketing recruitment agency of Leeds we’ve been working closely with agency leaders over the years and have obtained a good understanding of which leadership challenges they face.

    To help agency leaders keep the eye on the ball, here’s some advice on the future of agency leadership in Leeds.


    Leeds marketing agencies never standing still

    In our previous article ‘Evaluate Your Agency Day, we highlighted how creative agencies in Leeds are generally heading towards two different trends:

    1. Specialising in one creative sector (like social media marketing)              
    2. Moving from a sector to a full service marketing agency

    We also observed the backbone of all creative agencies in Leeds, which is the positive collaboration between them.

    group of hands
    The dreamwork of Leeds

    This sense of creative agency community helps to attract new business and new talent to the city. The most recent example of this city teamwork is the ‘All in. Leeds pitch that encouraged Channel 4 to choose Leeds as its headquarters. But there’s also the annual Leeds Digital Festival, which has attracted over 20,000 people. During this festival the digital agencies of Leeds share their insight into upcoming digital trends and business needs.

    No wonder then that Leeds’ digital sector is officially worth £1 billion.

    According to the research by TechNation there was a 138% increase of digital business births in Leeds between 2011 and 2016.

    In a nutshell, the Leeds marketing agency landscape has never stood still. Its future requires leadership skills that work towards innovation.


    York and Manchester on the move

    Leadership skills embracing innovation are especially important considering the competition to Leeds. Manchester and York are both after the title creative hub of the North.

    Manchester is currently outperforming Leeds in the digital sphere of things with the city’s digital hub worth £3.2 billion. Yet access to funding is one of the main challenges digital startups in the city face. The growing collaboration between Leeds’ agencies and businesses to grow the city into a creative powerhouse will be a big challenge to Manchester’s digital hub.

    Manchester city hall
    All a-buzz in Manchester

    York, on the other hand, is still growing its creative and digital industry. However, the city shouldn’t be underestimated. It has the largest number of people aged 18-29 living in the city compared to other UK cities, as according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). This age group is bringing new creative and digital ideas to the city.

    The future of agency leadership in Leeds depends on leaders understanding the overall competition around them.


    Creative and marketing candidates never standing still

    Moreover, the top creative candidates working with marketing recruitment agencies in Leeds are never standing still either.

    The nature of their jobs requires them to thrive in a fast-paced world with plenty of versatility. And so they actively look for roles in marketing agencies that offer the following:

    • New career challenges
    • Client sector versatility
    • Individual progression options
    • Career fulfilment
    inspirational quote for employees
    The shakers and makers

    The top marketing talent of Leeds is also more conscious than ever before about career fulfilment – not only referring to the nature of work, but to the culture in the workplace.

    Our insight into how to write an effective employment value proposition revealed that an agency culture championing a healthy work-life balance – with the flexibility of occasionally working from home – is highly valued amongst talent in Leeds.

    This combination of career challenge and fulfilment is leading to some top candidates looking towards in-house role options. Leeds is home to multiple big brands, like Arla Foods and Jet2, which are bringing a lot of their marketing in-house. Marketing talent of the region choosing these in-house roles over agency ones is something current agency leaders need to be aware of for their future leadership plans.


    What leadership skills do Leeds agencies need?

    There’s currently a lot of change happening in Leeds’ marketing agency landscape. And this change will remain a consistent vibe in the sector. But change doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on the latest ideas and changing a tactic at the drop of a hat. It also doesn’t mean putting your head in the sand and soldiering on with a one-track plan, no matter the warning signs.

    Marketing agency leaders of Leeds need to have a great balance of striving for innovation and steadfast decisiveness to succeed.

    Leeds Clarence Dock view
    Leeds is always on the move

    Here are the key leadership skills we’ve seen the top marketing agencies utilise:

    • Communication

    It’s a well-known fact that agency leaders need to be strong communicators, but this isn’t always followed through across tasks. Being brilliant at a pitch to gain new business is important, but there’s also the importance of transparency. A marketing agency’s customers require clear transparency on work completed, but your staff are equally looking for transparency from you. Telling your team what the goals are, updating them on progress and following through on what you’ve promised is not only part of good communication, but helps you as an agency director to cultivate a follow-up culture within your agency.

    Many talented leaders sometimes forget that communication isn’t just language – it’s action. If you’re seen to follow-through with what you say and to follow-up with your team on their projects and needs, then your team will naturally follow your example on projects.

    Similarly, if you show your team that you value good communication then your team will do the same, which leads to clear communication throughout the agency.

    And clear communication leads to happy staff and happy customers.

    • Trust and respect

    Clear communication is the foundation of trust and respect, but these still need to be earned. To do so, start by trusting your talented team.

    Praise and encouragement will prevent a blame culture from creeping into your agency. If everyone in the agency is focused on defending his or her worth, then less energy can be spent on delivering great work. If you make it clear that you have full trust in your team’s ability – while also setting realistic targets for them to strive towards – then your team will return this trust you’ve given them with their respect for your leadership skills.

    Teamwork is key for many industries. But for marketing agency leaders in particular, the trust in teamwork needs to follow through to other areas of the business. It’s not just skills that your team will be developing, but having access to the right tools.

    As a leader, listening to what tools are required to do a good job shows your respect for your team’s insight and opinions.

    • Championing creativity and execution

    In Leeds, there are so many talented marketing agencies that it’s really important for agency leaders to know and communicate what makes their agency standout. Marketing is both a creative and analytical industry, which can cause leadership challenges if you focus on one over the over.

    Leaders in Leeds need to value and communicate the value their team brings to customers. A rushed creative job won’t bring in the needed results, while just praising numbers and not acknowledging the creative genius behind a campaign can demotivate your team.

    As an agency leader you need to show that you value creativity, while keeping the numbers on track.

    • Confidence and commitment

    Change is inevitable especially for creative and marketing agencies in Leeds. In spite of this, everyone – even the most rounded leaders – has the initial instinct to resist change. Your staff looks to you to lead the agency direction and to set the behaviour within the agency.

    If you embrace change while maintaining a clear vision of who you are as an agency – and what you want to achieve – then your confidence and commitment to the agency’s future will come through to motivate your team.

    The agency leaders of Leeds with confidence and a clear commitment to growing their agency are the ones that attract top talent and that attract new business ventures.


    Future leaderships skills in a nutshell

    The future of agency leadership in Leeds requires well-rounded leaders who have a good eye for the direction the creative market is heading and how their agency’s unique selling points fit into this.

    compass in front of waterfall
    The path ahead is exciting

    What we mean by “well-rounded” is a leader who champions communication, transparency and skill growth within their team. With these things in place, committing to the vision and adapting to an ever-changing market that has competitors day-by-day will be much easier.

    How to recruit for the future

    Despite what horoscopes say, nobody can successfully predict the future. But agency leaders nevertheless need to be ready for it.

    Here are some of the key things to think about when recruiting for your creative or marketing agency:

    • Know the fad from the trend

    As mentioned previously embracing change is an essential leadership skill, but embracing every new thing is more destructive than productive. Look into the virtual reality and augmented reality options before making the call and start testing your insight into what’s a fad, and what has a long shelf life.

    • Recruit people that fit with your agency culture

    As marketing agency recruiters we understand the need for both agencies and candidates to find a match in each other. The perfect match is what we at Gloss are all about. That’s because a good fit leads to a long-term commitment between agency and candidate.

    • But don’t recruit the same people all the time

    The perfect match shouldn’t be misunderstood as the same person or the same match every time. For an agency leader it’s important to future-proof by recruiting a team with skills that complement each other and challenge each other as well. For an agency to have that forward drive, there needs to be a diverse team with different opinions, but a common goal for them all to work towards.

    • Get an expert marketing recruitment agency on board

    As shown in this article, marketing agencies in Leeds have their own niche recruitment needs. A general recruiter who helps companies across different roles -be they admin or finance or something else entirely – can’t specialise in finding the prefect candidate. A marketing recruitment agency with Leeds insight, on the other hand, can help agencies find the candidate they need to thrive in the future.


    Change and competition remain the two main leadership challenges that marketing agencies in Leeds face.

    However, we hope this article helps you plan your agency future to make the next year a success.

    If you’re intrigued by how our marketing recruitment agency in Leeds can support you, give us a call on 0113 209 5705, or take a closer look at our section dedicated to clients.