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Bret Werner’s Passionate Leadership

May 1, 2018

Bret Werner Highlights

Current job title: President, MWWPR

Previous executive role: Chief Client Officer, MWWPR

Other leadership positions: SVP, Managing Director, IMG/Catalyst; Managing Director, Co-Founder, Catalyst Public Relations; Managing Director, Taylor


How would you describe your leadership style? How would those you lead describe that style?

Passionate, with high expectations, and extremely loyal. Embracing people who take calculated risks is also a big component.


What are the three tenets of leadership that have driven your greatest success?

Following your passion is key. Secondly — and this can take time — becoming self-aware of your actions as well as the culture you exist in is essential. Finally, I have a firm belief that anything is possible. That has always been a driving factor in my career choices.


You came into agency management and leadership at a fairly young age. What special challenges did that provide and how did you overcome them?

Learning to manage to different styles was a skill that came with age. I didn’t always fully understand that it takes people of different personalities and perspectives to build a world-class agency.


Along the way to success, most leaders report some failures. What were your biggest ones? And what did you learn from each?

I had trouble initially managing people that could not match my assertiveness and passion. Over time I learned to adjust and to harness the best in different people and styles of work.


Who were the most effective leaders you’ve worked for, and what was the reason for their success?

The great leaders I’ve worked for in my career have not only been fearless but have a short-term memory when it comes to failures. Michael Kempner, Tony Signore, and Ari Emanuel all shared elements of that.


What were the most important first steps you took to establish yourself as a leader? 

I think all good leadership needs to showcase commitment to client service. Unfortunately, however, it’s an undervalued area in our industry. For me, the first step was proving the value in the client service area — it garners trust at every level of the organization.


What are the most important things a PR/communications manager can do to accelerate into a position of leadership? 

The most important aspect of any management position is to showcase strategic thinking from both the business and client sides, and to be proactive with ideas that influence change.

The first step for a manager to accelerate to that next level is to act like the owner, even if you aren’t one, which means understanding all aspects of the business and the staff within the organization.


What must the profession do to develop truly effective leaders?

First, we need to establish that we all need great business acumen. We need to understand how we can move our clients’ businesses forward and have a true understanding of what it’s like to operate an agency; the statement “I don’t do math, I’m in PR” is unrealistic.

Second, understanding how we’re not just generating impressions and awareness, but how we’re impacting the business is what we need to teach our industry as a whole and instill in the next generation of leaders.

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).

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