In this episode, Heather speaks with Ian Sohn, President of the Chicago office of Wunderman, a creative tech company. Ian talks about his leadership style, his philosophy on growing talents, and a rough spot he found himself in as a leader.
Heather discovered Ian through an article written about him in the New York Post, where they highlighted a recent open letter he wrote about his expectations for employees checking in after work hours. You’ll want to listen in on his perspective after you read the article.
- Leaders must transfer what they know to those around them.
- Be intentional about the words that you use to express emotion.
- Always consider the intention of someone’s actions before holding it against them.
- Think of mistakes as teachable moments.
- If leaders do the hard work to build trust through expressing love then no need for foreplay when go to deliver feedback.
- Consider the employee lifecycle when coaching them.
- Trust and then hold accountable.
- Showing some vulnerability regarding mistakes is very important to build trust.
- Take care of yourself first.
- Never do a bad imitation of someone else, be you!
This is a must episode!
Ian Sohn is the President of Wunderman Thompson Central Region, which includes Chicago, Austin, Memphis and Minneapolis.
Most recently, Ian was the Managing Director of SapientRazorfish Chicago where he looked after the business, human and cultural health of the office. He was also the architect and business lead for a world-class portfolio of brands, including CPG, insurance, retail, fashion, pharma and healthcare.
He is proud of his new business track-record; his passion for selling innovative ideas and solutions; the trust his clients put in him; and the joy he takes in finding and developing talent.
He spent eight years at Ogilvy & Mather where he started an award-winning social media practice; and championed digital, mobile and social expertise across the agency. Prior to Ogilvy, he was the global partnership lead for a division of Nokia.
Finally, he believes people are inherently decent. When he’s not working, he’s likely chasing his two little boys, yelling at athletes on TV who can’t hear him, watching Keith Moon clips on YouTube, devouring something with ketchup, reading anything he can find on Muhammad Ali or running a few miles on the Chicago lakefront.
Give, Get, Grow
What I am trying to do now is not only figure out how I can be more effective and empathetic but also discover how I can transfer some of the things that I have learned from leaders I have worked with to people who work for me. I have gone from leading for myself to leading and teaching for others. I have been unbelievably fortunate in my career to work for and be around incredible leaders. With that, I feel the responsibility to pass that on to others.
As cliché as it may sound, the more that you think about leadership that way, the more you end up growing as a leader. That’s a really nice kind of feedback to, “The more you give, the more you get, and the more you grow.”
Communicate Your Emotions
If you are frustrated, upset or angry about something, you have to communicate it. People have to know how you’re feeling in order to react, help, or just understand that you’re not happy with something.
I think, what we all struggle with is how to communicate our emotions in a productive and respectful way without making it personal or hysterical.
There are times when I am good at it and times when I could do way, way better. I try to think about what I need to show from an emotional standpoint, in addition to the words that I use.
What do I need to show emotionally so that everybody in the room understands exactly the point I am trying to make?
If the words are the bones and the skeletons, the emotions are like the clothes that I am dressing them up with to make sure that I am communicating the right image to the room, so that they know where I am coming from and where I want to go.
Also, I never hold it against people when they show their human side when communicating, even if it comes out wrong. If the intention is good, then it’s okay, because they’re trying to do the right thing.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I had somebody very senior at work tell me that they were always surprised at how nonplussed they get at heightened situations but not me.
I tend to remain fairly unfazed, or at least I try to not show that I am fazed by something. I try to remain calm.
Obviously, being one of the senior people in the room, your tone and mood sets the tone for the rest.
So, I try not to get hysterical because all it does is get everybody hysterical and nothing gets done.
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