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Bossing It: Bradley Rogers on the Twin Pillars of Transparency and Engagement


MRM's global president and COO on the snowplough effect, reacting better to encouragement and the need to always be learning and growing

Bossing It: Bradley Rogers on the Twin Pillars of Transparency and Engagement

Bradley is an executive with 25 years of experience in the media and marketing industry. Throughout his career he has held roles focused on agency and client leadership, discipline leadership, as well as commercial & operational positions primarily focused on digital marketing. Bradley has worked in the UK and US for Carat and Isobar (Dentsu), Ogilvy and GroupM (WPP) and MRM (IPG), with a mix of country, regional, and global focuses.

In his current role as global president and COO of MRM, Bradley leads the day to day running of the NY and West Coast agencies, MRM’s global client engagements, and coordinates the global operational running of the MRM network. 

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?  

Bradley> For me, and I’m sure for many, my very first experiences of leadership were at school. I’m naturally quite competitive and participated in a number of team sports. I quickly realised I was quite vocal and lent towards being energising as part of a team. You start to understand the importance of creating a sense of togetherness amongst a team and find out how different people and personality types react in a variety of situations. I also realised the importance of being a conduit at times between the coach, and the broader team, relaying information and sharing perspectives. These were my first real moments of leadership.

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?  

Bradley> I’ve had the benefit of working for some incredibly inspirational people who were generous of spirit, kind, and forgiving. I react far better to encouragement than negativity, as most people do, and wanted to leave others with a positive experience. I think as a leader if you react badly to challenging news, people will stop bringing it to you, and that will make you far less effective. It’s overused but I’m encouraged by the transition within our industry and many others to a more Lasso-esque management style, that is about unlocking and maximising what people are great at, rather than just focusing on improving weaknesses.

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?  

Bradley> I think you learn from your experiences, and your leadership style is constantly evolving, so I’m not sure there’s a singular moment to pinpoint. What I do love is the philosophy of servant-leadership. A true leader supports others to help them be successful, rather than to achieve individual success. Before I heard this phrase, I referred to it as the snowplough effect, the belief that my job is helping others get where they’re going. Realising the importance of this, for me, is one of the biggest moments in my leadership journey.

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?  

Bradley> I don’t think I ever thought about a taking on a leadership role per se, but just naturally grew into a position of leadership by working very hard and building trusted relationships with those all around me, which in turn earned their respect. You can have the title, but if you don’t have the respect of your peers and your team, you’ll be swimming upstream the whole time. I would add that I try and always say yes to new opportunities, whatever they may be, and am inherently curios about the world, so I’m inclined to try and continuously solve problems. That led me from London to NY and opened a world of opportunities for me.

LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?  

Bradley> I think it’s both, the ability to be a great orator, to inspire others, to be an energising personality within a group, is I think very natural, and we can all think of people like this in our personal and professional lives, as well as in the public domain. Having said that, someone wise once said to me “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”, the point being you should always be learning and growing. I think the work out there showcasing how your personality traits impact others, and how different people need to be engaged in different ways is inspiring, and the more self-aware and empathetic you are, the better you will be as a leader.

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?  

Bradley> I think that the weight of responsibility to the organisation can sometimes feel heavy. You’re responsible for the well-being and careers of your people, and you have to be strong enough emotionally to bear that. As I said earlier, I’ve had some incredible leaders and mentors in my career that I’ve been able to turn to for guidance in those moments of doubt or when you question yourself, and to be able to get additional perspective is invaluable. So, I would strongly recommend to everyone to create those pillars for yourself and have a small network of trusted people you can consult with to get a rounded view on any given scenario.

LBB> Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?  

Bradley> Every day! I think any leader who is self-aware will always feel like they can do better, react differently in a situation, or have gotten to something quicker. We’re making literally hundreds of micro decisions daily, and in many cases adjusting or correcting decisions already made as you receive more information and data points. For me, if you’re not making those decisions quickly, you can paralyse an organisation. I truly believe speed of decision making is a major differentiator in our industry, which by the way I learnt from a former leader!

LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be as transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?  

Bradley> I am a great believer in the twin pillars of transparency and engagement, and always strive to be authentic. I try to be as open as possible with our whole team in town hall settings, and with my leadership team in our meetings. I’m a huge Simon Sinek fan, and I believe people’s motivation starts with “Why?” Why do I care about this Client? Why should I go the extra mile? Why should I go back to the office? If you can provide context on your thought process, your rationale, and people see it serves their best interests, as well as the greater good of the organisation, they will buy into it and feel more accountable to achieving it. Undoubtedly, you can’t just shoot from the hip all the time, you need to be intentional in your actions, but I do believe strongly in this philosophy.

LBB> As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship?  

Bradley> I have had two great mentors in my career, people who I felt were truly selfless in guiding me, and they are people I still hold dear to me today. I am a great believer in mentorship as I referenced earlier – and I am focused on paying it forward in providing the same guidance to others. I think we underestimate the value of the wisdom we’ve gathered over the years, and decisions that we may find obvious can be a real challenge to those earlier on in their career. 

LBB> It's been a really challenging year - and that's an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters?  

Bradley> While the last few years have been challenging in unique ways, I’m inspired by the opportunities all around us. People, and in turn Brands, have gone through rapid change in this period, which has led to a huge amount of innovation in the commerce, experience, and transformation spaces. Our business is in a constant state of change, and you really must embrace that and lean into it, and ideally, thrive on it. I try and spend as much time as possible listening to both Clients and our people as I can. I get a lot of energy from those discussions and am excited by the potential of what lies ahead.

LBB> This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this?  

Bradley> We’ve held ourselves accountable to our organisation and have established governance structures, a global CEO executive inclusion council and score card frameworks to monitor progress against our annual DE&I performance objectives.  We also spend a full day in the Fall each year to host our ‘Day For Meaning’ activation in all of our offices.  This global event brings together all employees, at all levels, to focus on, review and reaffirm our individual commitments to creating the conditions where people from all social, cultural, and cognitive backgrounds feel a sense of connection, belonging and shared purpose at work every day. Additionally, several years ago we began the practice of issuing our annual 'MRM DE&I roadmap,' which serves as a company-wide report to update our employees on the programs and activities that have taken place to help us achieve our established DE&I goals. I think our industry has a duty of care to be one of, if not the most, progressive given the influence our work has in culture, and in the world. To that end, we must remain steadfast in both the foundational work we’ve been doing, as well as some innovative programs we’re leading to operationalise our DE&I strategy.

LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with staff working remotely in 2020?  

Bradley> I think it’s absolutely critical. Within our space we increasingly have the same ingredients, but how you bring them together is what makes an agency special. Culture plays a huge role here, and my wish is for us to be a group of smart, collaborative, and nice people. I think the best Clients are really looking to see how people interact with each other and want to work with people who have strong values that are aligned to their own. During the last few years with periods of remote work, we’ve worked hard to create communities for people within their disciplines, and also within their peers, like our Junior Leadership Team and our Office Ambassador programs, as well as keeping people engaged and updated via town halls and departmental meetings.

LBB> What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey?

Bradley> I try and absorb as much information as possible from a multitude of sources. I would emphasise again the importance of mentorship, and also participating in any form of behavioural or leadership group settings that are offered. I recently had the chance to participate in IPG’s leadership lab and go through both Hogan and DISC profiling exercises. I found the coaches that supported us and my colleagues inspirational, and learning about how others perceive you at both your best and worst is a rewarding and humbling experience. To finish on the theme I began with, I will also say I do read a lot of sports-related leadership books, and just finished Gary Neville’s ‘The People’s Game,’ and Eddie Jones book on his leadership experiences. Sir Clive Woodward’s book ‘Winning!,’ on how he transformed a dysfunctional team into world champions is also a great read!  

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MRM, Mon, 03 Apr 2023 16:27:01 GMT