First, let me state the obvious: running a global account isn't rocket science – there are clients to please, teams to motivate, work to produce. But it's not without its challenges. Below are five helpful hints I've picked up over the years that make the process easier. Some were learned through mistakes, while others were given to me by Global Account Director Jedis. May the force be with you:
1) Meet your team.
I know, I know, we have Skype and teleconferencing, so meeting your team has never been easier. Although these tools are great and helpful, know this: there's nothing like face-to-face interactions. Your first order of business when taking a new job should be meeting your team around the world. At MSLGROUP we've instituted global summits for some of our largest clients, with our entire team meeting in New York. Seeing strengthened relationships, and the resulting increases in connectivity and support, are well worth the investment.
2) Don't assume you know everything.
As a global account director, you're supposed to be the one with all the answers. But don't let that stop you from asking lots of questions – even the ones you think are silly, or obvious, or stupid. Ask about your teams' opinions, insights, thoughts, and if you think you know the answer, try to learn how they perceive the issue. Ask about their clients and what they're hearing "on the street." Gather all the intelligence you can. Not only will that make you better at your job, it will make you more valuable to your clients.
3) Be humble.
Know that you will make mistakes. Even if you've been to this rodeo before, you'll make a misstep and enrage someone with your cultural insensitivity (bonus hint : clocks + China = bad news), your involvement in managing issues or opportunities, or simply by making the wrong decision. But if you've built strong relationships (see above) and are honest and transparent with your teams, they will support you and move on.
4) Be yourself.
In my experience, Americans have a tendency to back down from what we know is right as a weird overcompensation for “not seeming American.” But your duty is to the client and the business. If your clients wants positivity and cheerleading, then you give it to them, and let your UK lead roll her eyes all she wants.
5) Know your limits.
Every global agency has strengths and weaknesses. As loathe as you might be to admit it, if your office in Moscow really can't take on an assignment for your client, don't let it. Again, the client is your main priority, and business will grow only when you've established with your client that you will put their needs before those of the agency. But as soon as you've admitted your weakness, get your behind on a plane to Moscow and knock those guys into shape so you're ready the next time!
Amanda Glasgow is SVP, personal care practice director at MSLGROUP.