Just over 6 years ago I did a big thing. I moved from my hometown where I was born, some 20 miles outside of London, UK, more than 5,000 miles away to San Francisco, California.
For someone who hated change and who notoriously panicked, taking a long time to adjust to new situations, the ease at which I adapted to this huge life change was something I hold with pride to this day. In fact, looking back, anytime I traveled to new places what turned out to be the one imperative thing needed for me to thrive, was my ability to be flexible and adapt to a new way of doing life!
Flexibility in the agency world, especially in how we work with our clients, our people and how we adopt new processes, is so important in a world that is ever-changing, extremely competitive and that has a reputation for burnout.
Each client, team member, project, geography, or audience (I could go on) has different needs, and flexibility means being able to not just effectively bend to those needs without breaking, but doing it because that is what’s needed to build long-term success.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”Albert Einstein
From client relationships to internal processes to how we lead our teams, agencies can’t be rigid, inflexible entities. We need to show clients we are an extension of their team and must adopt a flexible and agile mindset and practice.
Flexibility in client relationships
Our strongest asset is our client relationships. We rely on these relationships to build value, growth and a sustainable business.
We must practice what we preach. Whenever we do a strategy workshop we state, “We do this process with you, not for you.” And it’s true – working together as an extension of our clients’ teams means we develop a strong foundation and generate excellent value at a much faster pace. How do we do that? We must be flexible.
We must listen to our clients, be willing to adapt and compromise (as long as this doesn’t go against our core values) and then use that as learning to be even better next time.
Whether that is the ability to shift and adapt to changing priorities; flex a process by maybe kicking off multiple workstreams concurrently to ensure a pre-IPO launch happens on time, or something as simple as switching from SharePoint to Google Docs – adopting a flexible working relationship builds trust, reliability, long-term partnership and ultimately success for both sides.
Flexibility in leadership
Our strongest asset is our people. Okay, I know I said our strongest asset was our client relationships, but in truth, both are equally as important. Having happy, valued people equals happy, valued clients.
What makes a team feel truly valued? It’s in our ability to listen, empower them and lead with authenticity, kindness and respect (good people can smell BS a mile off). With this, there needs to be a willingness to – you guessed it – be flexible. Be open to new ideas, adapt the leadership style to match individual needs and communications styles, celebrate success (no matter how small the win) and specifically, break down barriers to excellent work. Yes, flexibility can look like being able to work from anywhere, but it means so much more.
“Given that flexibility affords people autonomy, freedom, and balance, people perform better. It translates into higher productivity levels, loyalty, and engaged employees. How could success not be a result of this?”Flexjobs.com
A whole world of flexibility
I once read somewhere that being flexible plays an important role in making you more resilient. I like to think that my moving halfway across the world has certainly played a huge part in my resilience as a human being – my character, my ability to adapt to what life throws at me, and thus my ability to bounce back.
What we’re doing here can absolutely be an exciting adventure full of possibilities, just like it was for me when I left London. But to keep it that way and not lose sight of why we do this in the first place, we must be able to respond to change, difficulties, and new circumstances with resilience. This will enable us to adjust quickly to new realities and hopefully keep finding the joy and rewards in this journey we call #agencylife.