Scott Baradell on Making the Switch to Management

March 2, 2016

Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell

In 2005, Scott Baradell founded Idea Grove, which has since become one of the fastest-growing PR and inbound-marketing agencies for B2B technology companies. Previously, Baradell was a senior corporate communications executive for two Fortune 1000 companies, and prior to that, he was a journalist.

Who are some great leaders with whom you’ve worked?

Someone I model myself after as a manager is Jenny Haynes, my boss at PageNet in the 1990s. Jenny was knowledgeable and set an example for professionalism. She was a serious person by nature, but empathetic. She was very busy, but if you came into Jenny’s office, she always took the time to listen. She taught me not only about corporate communications, but also about being human while working in a corporate environment. Jenny always helped each person on the team shine, and [learn] to take credit for their achievements.

Barbara Hyman, who was our senior person at our agency, Hopkins and Associates, showed a lot of grace leading me — a young client who was a little full of himself. I’m grateful to her for putting up with me, and helping me see what I needed to learn.

Most of us have worked for at least one executive who may have had many skills, but wasn’t an effective leader. Can you share an example of this in your life, and how that has informed your own leadership style?

The best example I can think of is a very successful entrepreneur I once worked with whose positive qualities — investing in training, social activities, staff perks — were undermined by his lack of ethics. People didn’t respect his values or scruples, and in my mind, all those investments in his people were money wasted. The best ones always left.

Here was a guy who invested so much in some of the right things, but was clueless that his people were so unhappy and not following him. It’s not enough to have great pay, benefits, training, happy hours, etc. Those are the easy things. You’ve got to know how your people feel, and what your business model should be. That’s the hard work.

What do you know about leadership now that you wish you had known when you switched into management two decades ago?

I wish I had been more confident in business meetings and presentations when I was younger. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are or how good your work is if you can’t sell them when talking with people face-to-face. The earlier in your career you can focus on developing those skills, the better.

We all learn from our leadership faux pas, even our “failures.” What are some of yours?

Too numerous to mention. My biggest mistakes involved taking things too personally. You’re going to get criticism from employees, clients, competitors — it’ll eat you up if you take all that to heart. Use what you can to get better, and then let the rest go.

What’s your best advice to leaders-in-training?

EQ is more important than IQ, more so than in any previous generation. Know your people, listen to them and let them guide your sails as much as possible, while still holding fast to true north.

Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs is principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching. Visit his website (www.jacobscomm.com) and contact him by email (ken@jacobscomm.com) or Twitter (@KensViews).

Comments

Ayana King says:

All great (and timely) advice!

June 30, 2016

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