The Definitive Management Guide To Inspire Leadership in Agencies

If you're looking to sharpen your manager's skills and leadership qualities, this management guide is the ultimate tool for helping them succeed.

Updated: May 12, 2023
a team of women surrounding a computer

Need content for your business? Find top writers on WriterAccess!

What makes a great manager? Is a manager the same as a leader? 

Leadership positions are relatively commonplace, but not everyone is cut out to succeed in leading others. 

Fortunately, with the right tools and strategies in place, a management guide can help even the most challenged manager overcome various setbacks to be a vital asset to the organization.

For marketing agencies, a management guide is essential to ensure smoother operational efficiency and better client satisfaction. 

So, with that in mind, here’s the ultimate guide to inspiring leadership in agencies.

    What is a Management Guide?

    A management guide is a document that outlines the various elements of being a successful and efficient manager. 

    Management guides can be generalized and discuss leadership components in a broad sense, or they can be targeted at a specific industry or niche. 

    Management guides are different from employee handbooks or training manuals because they discuss deeper topics regarding leadership and success within an organization. 

    While handbooks and manuals outline rules and guidelines within the company, a management guide is more open-ended and idea-based, not rule-based. 

    What Makes a Good Manager?

    Technically, the hallmarks of a good manager may differ depending on who you ask. 

    For an executive or CEO, a good manager is someone who can ensure consistent productivity and achieve objectives on time and on budget. 

    From this perspective, a great manager may be an individual who can consistently outperform their previous goals and help the business grow and thrive over the long term. 

    From the employee side of things, though, a good manager is someone who cares about the health and well-being of their staff. 

    Good managers know how to maximize productivity through positive encouragement and rewards instead of punishments and laborious work schedules. 

    Ideally, a manager is also someone who fights on behalf of their employees, using their position to ensure better working conditions, higher pay rates, and comprehensive benefits. 

    Overall, a good manager is someone who can inspire others and adapt their leadership style to motivate a wide array of employees. 

    Ultimately, a manager’s job is to balance profitability with employee satisfaction and morale, so good leaders are capable of towing that line and delivering results for both the company and its workers. 

    What are the Five Pillars of Management?

    If you’re hoping to become a good or great manager, you need to know which skills are necessary for success. 

    As we mentioned, managing is mostly a balancing act, so the better you are at sharing ideas and shouldering responsibilities, the easier it is to keep everything in check and not let any one element destroy that balance. 

    Generally speaking, there are five pillars (traits) that all excellent managers must have for long-term success. 

    Here’s a breakdown of each one: 

    1. Wisdom

    As the old saying goes, there’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom, and that difference is experience. 

    You can read up on managerial techniques in a book, but until you try to apply them to a real-world scenario, those methods are all theoretical. 

    People are complex creatures, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. 

    So, part of being a good manager is knowing how to leverage the skills and personalities of everyone on your team. 

    Since everyone can’t be at the same level, it’s up to you to figure out how to utilize each person as effectively as possible. 

    Managers that try to “fit square pegs into round holes” wind up with dissatisfied employees or a worker shortage.

    Another aspect of managerial wisdom is knowing every aspect of the jobs done by your employees. 

    As a manager, you should be able to fill any position temporarily if need be. T

    hat’s not to say you need to be the best at every position, but you should be able to cover for individual workers as necessary.

     If not, then you’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage when a problem arises. 

    1. Communication

    As a manager, you need to communicate with your team constantly. 

    Communication can be as simple as telling individuals their work schedule, or it can be sharing complex ideas to motivate staff members to work harder or more efficiently. 

    Training is also a big part of the job, so you have to know how to explain different tasks and objectives if you want your team to accomplish them without any setbacks. 

    One thing to note is that communication has to be a two-way street. Often, managers are the mediator between low-level employees and top-level executives. 

    So, workers need to be able to communicate with you about various issues or topics related to their position, and you need to be able to relay company policies, objectives, or tasks. 

    Another part of communication is transparency. While you can’t necessarily share all details with everyone, you should be able to provide enough clarity to avoid confusion or misunderstandings. 

    As a rule, being able to explain the “why” behind a task or objective is enough transparency to get everyone on the same page. 

    1. Supportiveness

    As we mentioned, employees tend to view good managers as those who fight on behalf of their subordinates. 

    Being a manager is far more than just telling people what to do and how to do it. 

    If you want your employees to respect your word enough to follow your directions, you need to show them that you have their back. 

    Poor managers tend to neglect the needs of their workers and assume that a paycheck is more than enough motivation to overcome any obstacle. 

    Great managers, however, understand that individual needs can vary from one person to the next. 

    So, by supporting each person individually, they can get better productivity from the entire team. 

    Supportiveness can also take on several forms. In one case, it may be ensuring equal pay rates among employees of a certain level or position. 

    In another case, it might be flexibility with one’s scheduling, so they don’t have to make hard choices between their professional and personal lives. 

    Overall, effective managers realize that they’re a foundation for their employees, serving as a support system to help each person thrive as much as possible. 

    For marketing teams, you can improve your supportiveness with tools like the Content Cloud, that help marketing teams create well-round content strategies.

    1. Decisiveness

    Knowing everything and supporting your team is great, but neither of those traits means anything if you can’t get anything done. 

    Managers need to be able to make executive decisions, sometimes at a moment’s notice. 

    Ideally, these decisions will come after careful planning and foresight, but that’s not always possible. 

    Sometimes, these decisions are difficult and mean weighing the pros and cons of two equally distressing outcomes. 

    Here is also where wisdom and experience can come into play. 

    Newer and younger managers may make decisions based on what they think will happen, while veteran managers can draw on their own experiences to know how a decision will play out. 

    That’s not to say young managers can’t be decisive – only that their decision-making process isn’t as refined as someone who’s been in similar situations before. 

    1. Motivation

    Finally, a good manager is someone who knows how to motivate their team as effectively and positively as possible. 

    Positive motivation leads to better morale and satisfaction, while negative motivation can lead to burnout and high worker turnover. 

    If you’re not familiar with the difference between positive and negative motivation, here are some examples of each: 

    Negative Motivations

    • Pay Cuts
    • Write-Ups
    • Demotions
    • Verbal Harassment

    Positive Motivations

    • Pay Increases or Bonuses
    • Verbal Encouragement
    • Paid Time Off
    • Gifts and Rewards

    One point to remember is that everyone can be motivated differently. Some workers might be more productive if a bonus was offered for their efforts, while others might prefer PTO or gifts instead. 

    As a manager, it’s up to you to learn which pieces might motivate workers the most and leverage them as much as possible. 

    Try to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach. 

    What are the 10 Rules of Management?

    Above, we discussed the various traits that make a good manager – these are intrinsic values that allow you to succeed in the position. 

    Now, we’re going to discuss the 10 “rules” of being a good manager. 

    These rules are reflective of the pillars we mentioned, but they’re far more specific and targeted to the job. Here’s a quick overview of these rules: 

    #1 Be Consistent

    Consistency is crucial for any job as it ensures long-term success. 

    As a manager, consistency means staying true to your word and delivering the same results every time. 

    Consistency may also mean treating everyone on the team equally and avoiding favoritism or cronyism as much as possible. 

    #2 Set Clear Goals

    One of the best ways to tell if you’re a successful manager is to set clear and understandable goals for the team and each individual. 

    If you reach those goals, you know your management style is working. 

    If you’re often falling short, you know it’s time to change things and discover the root of the problem. 

    #3 Practice Effective Communication

    Communication can take many forms in the workplace, including one-on-one chats, emails, performance evaluations, internal messages on the company channel, meetings, and more. 

    As a manager, you need to know how to utilize these different channels to communicate with individuals and the team at large. 

    #4 Set the Example

    Managers aren’t there to bark orders and cash checks. 

    Good managers are present to support their team and motivate them to be as productive and efficient as possible. 

    However, if you’re setting a bad example, why should employees do better than their direct supervisor? 

    Being a manager means you have a much more public reputation to uphold, so it’s imperative to lead by example whenever possible. 

    #5 Recognize Successes Publicly, Failures Privately

    When someone on your team does a good job, it’s important to let everyone else know about it. 

    Public displays of positive affirmations show the team that you’re willing and able to put successes front and center (as long as it’s not at anyone else’s expense). 

    Conversely, when someone falls short of expectations, you should discuss those matters with the individual privately instead of shaming them in front of others. 

    #6 Be Transparent

    Transparency is essential as a manager because it gives your team a glimpse behind the scenes and helps them feel like they’re part of the inner workings. 

    While not everyone should know everything, it’s important to be as transparent about the how and why as possible. 

    #7 Customize Your Management Style

    As a manager, you should never assume that one management strategy will work for everyone. 

    Instead, it’s much better to customize your approach with each worker to suit their needs and maximize their productivity. 

    #8 Make Work Rewarding

    These days, employees want to feel empowered by what they do. 

    If they’re just doing busy work or menial tasks, they won’t be motivated to do a good job. 

    While not all positions are glamorous or intrinsically rewarding, a good manager helps workers find meaning to motivate them better. 

    #9 Solicit Feedback

    As we mentioned, communication is a two-way street. 

    Employees should feel comfortable sharing information with their manager at any time. 

    While there are times and places for specific types of conversations, you should encourage feedback and suggestions. 

    However, make sure to follow through, so employees feel heard and understood. 

    #10 Encourage Creativity and Innovation

    Just because a job has been done a certain way 10,000 times doesn’t mean it’s the best or most efficient way. 

    Creativity and innovation can often come from the places you’d least suspect, so you don’t want to dismiss an idea or suggestion just because it goes against the grain. 

    Download our interactive e-book: Management Guide for Agencies

    What are the Four Types of Management Styles?

    As a manager, you can lead your employees or boss them around. 

    Actually, there are four ways for you to interact with your workers, so let’s break down each one and how it works. 


    The mantra of this style essentially boils down to “do what I say.” 

    Autocratic managers are more concerned about being authority figures than helping their employees succeed. 

    As a rule, this management style doesn’t work well in the long term since workers are more inclined to search for better positions elsewhere. 


    As the name suggests, democratic managers seek input from their teams before making any substantial decisions. 

    Typically, this management style works best for smaller departments or crews where everyone has mostly equal status.

    In this case, the manager is more of a figurehead and spokesperson of the team than an outright “boss.”

    Hands Off

    It’s easy to assume that a hands-off manager doesn’t care about their employees or the job. 

    However, this style is actually all about empowering employees to be more self-sufficient and motivated.

    This style is essentially the opposite of micro-managing, and it works well for skilled positions that don’t require much oversight. 

    The trick is to check in with your team enough to ensure they’re on target but not so much that they feel crowded. 


    The final management style aims to transform workers into the best versions of themselves. 

    In this case, your job is to recognize the raw talent within individuals and nurture it to become something better. 

    In this case, your staff may wind up moving onto bigger and better things, but that’s not necessarily a bad move. 

    What are the Seven Principles of Management?

    So far, we’ve discussed traits, rules, and management styles. 

    However, we’re not quite finished with the core components of being a good (or great) leader. 

    Here’s a rundown of the seven core principles of this position, regardless of your industry. 

    #1 Focus on the Customer Experience

    At the end of the day, customers and clients are the ones paying the bills. 

    Managers need to consider their decisions and actions from a customer perspective and determine what will move the needle the most. 

    This principle is designed to help managers shift their focus away from the “job” and toward the meaning behind it. 

    However, it’s also crucial to remember that the customer experience shouldn’t undermine or diminish the employee experience in the process. 

    #2 Manage Relationships

    A manager is essentially a relationship master who can navigate through complex interpersonal situations when necessary. 

    Managers know how to handle people from both the customer and employee sides of the equation. 

    Overall, if you can become better at handling and fostering relationships between individuals, you’ll become a much more successful manager. 

    #3 Be a Strong Leader

    Leadership is a necessary trait of any management position because otherwise, how would you get your team to follow? 

    However, there’s a big difference between a leader and a “boss,” and many managers often get the two mixed up. 

    While you have to maintain your authority, you shouldn’t do it at the expense of your employees. Leadership is about assisting workers, not barking orders at them. 

    #4 Make Informed Decisions

    Poor managers make decisions based on incomplete or incorrect information. 

    In many cases, poor managers decide based on feelings, not objective reasoning. 

    A good manager considers their decisions from all sides, if possible, and aims to do what’s best for everyone involved. 

    #5 Engage and Empower People

    Disengaged workers are unproductive, so managers need to work with their employees to determine the best way to motivate them to do their best. 

    Empowerment often stems from positive reinforcement, so it’s best to focus on the good things that employees do instead of their mistakes. 

    #6 Make Improvement an Ongoing Process

    While almost all processes can be improved in some way, there is a limit to how much you can optimize something. 

    That said, good managers have systems in place to identify areas where improvement is necessary and helps facilitate the changes to make it happen. 

    #7 Refine Your Operations

    People have a tendency to fall into patterns and routines, which can lead to stagnation and inefficiency. 

    As a manager, you need to be looking at how to refine and optimize all stages of your operations whenever possible. 

    Again, there are limits to how much something can be improved, but it’s crucial to make refinement part of the process. 

    Get Better Content With Rock Content!

    If you’re looking for better content to wow clients and deliver better products, let Rock Content help. 

    We’re offering a free two-week trial to Writer Access, which will connect you with a pool of talented writers in a wide array of fields. Contact us today to find out more!


    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Subscribe to our blog

    Sign up to receive Rock Content blog posts

    Rock Content WriterAccess - Start a Free Trial

    Order badass content with WriterAccess. Just as we do.

    Find +15,000 skilled freelance writers, editors, content strategists, translators, designers and more for hire.

    Want to receive more brilliant content like this for free?

    Sign up to receive our content by email and be a member of the Rock Content Community!

    Talk to an expert and enhance your company’s marketing results.

    Rock Content offers solutions for producing high-quality content, increasing organic traffic, building interactive experiences, and improving conversions that will transform the outcomes of your company or agency. Let’s talk.