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Bossing It: The Importance of Building Team Trust with Amy Henderson


Ardmore's head of client services on keeping healthy routines, positive company culture and why leadership is hard-wired into her personality

Bossing It: The Importance of Building Team Trust with Amy Henderson

Amy Henderson is head of client services at Ardmore, based in the UK. Her role involves managing a dynamic team of marketing experts whilst maintaining positive and effective client relationships.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?

Amy> It is going to sound very cliched, but I feel like leadership is something I have always confronted, even at an early age. As an elder sister of two brothers and all the dynamics that come with that, you could say I was born into it. Definitely mature for my age!! As a result of that experience, it became a deep-rooted personality trait. As I got older, I discovered a natural interest in taking the lead which only continued through participation in school and sport. 

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?

Amy> I have definitely learned a lot from my own exposure to leadership. Especially through peers and people who have played a role in my own development.

I’ve always taken learnings from leaders I enjoyed working with, those who pushed and supported me to develop, made the process enjoyable, and could still be kind and compassionate whilst being assertive. I thrived with leaders who made me feel psychologically safe, who shared the wins and shouldered the losses with me. This really built my confidence levels and defined my style.

I knew I wanted to be the type of leader that is there for the team and present, but allows them to grow and develop. It’s been really important for me to recognise the difference between being a leader and a manager. Ultimately, there is nothing more harmful than unintentionally sheltering someone from unlocking their true ability. People need an environment where they are able to fail fast and learn how to grow.

In my experience this is all about creating an environment where strong working relationships with a team can exist. 

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

Amy> Most recently, I would say trying to manage a team during covid. Not that we really want to go back to those memories anymore, but it was a real learning experience. 

The whole pandemic and the uncertainty around that, coupled with lockdowns and remote working meant there was this whole new dynamic to collaborative working. You were trying to drive business as usual but with these heightened emotions and stresses. 

For me, it reaffirmed just how far compassion, empathy and fun can go in making others feel connected and motivated.

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?

Amy> Leadership was always something I had an interest in. As I said before, I feel like it is hard-wired into my personality and truthfully, I like that about myself. I’ve always been ambitious to make positive change in any organisation I’m working in. Putting myself out there, sticking my hand up and giving things a go, or shadow others for more opportunities to develop. 

I think that attitude of always wanting to go a little bit outside of my comfort zone, started to present a lot of new and interesting opportunities. 

As I progressed, I really took value in motivating and encouraging the team – Learning about them, understanding their personalities and supporting them in ways that I know they will respond to. Ultimately, I love people and working with others, so being a bigger part of helping drive that has been a real point of passion and pride 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?

Amy> I do believe leadership is a natural part of personality, ultimately you have a desire for it or not, however, I do believe that it can be nurtured and everyone can and should be always striving to improve in this aspect. 

I think if we are striving to be a better communicator or more proactive, it only serves to improve the lives of everyone around us.

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

Amy> I think it can be easy to let imposter syndrome slip in and doubt your own abilities. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with from time to time. During these times, I make sure to take a step back, speak to others and try and understand myself better. Why am I feeling that way? Is it down to my performance or is it something else? It’s amazing the amount I can doubt myself if I’m overtired or hungry!  

I do try and keep a good healthy routine outside of work – whether that is exercising, socialising, or even an early night’s sleep. All these external influences contribute to a better performance as a leader.

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

Amy> I think it’s important to strike a balance with how transparent you are vs how considered. I do find that people have more job satisfaction when they understand the ‘why’ so that’s always important for me to convey, whilst keeping in mind what your team need to know to help them with their jobs. A really important part of this for me is building trust within the team, having the team trust that I’ll share what’s important for them without overwhelming them with distracting information. 

LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business? 

Amy> Having a positive company culture is crucial. A company that creates psychological safety and ensures people feel supported to contribute ideas. I just love seeing a good vibe amongst a team, where everyone is feeling good and contributing together. Positive culture is infectious and can really make the difference in performance and the overall result on what we are working towards.

On a personal level, I’m a big believer in making sure other team members feel welcome, listened to, understood and supported from day one. Understanding people’s passions and interests outside of work goes such a long way to helping build better relationships. Sometimes knowing what will make someone laugh or what hobbies they are in to, can have a massive impact on building a positive culture. Importantly that also helps ensure they can build on that culture themselves.

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

Amy> Communicating and learning from others has been really beneficial on my leadership journey, as well as asking for feedback. Self reflection is one area that is really important to me, knowing my weaknesses (and strengths) and how I can work to these to create the best environment for the team. 

Being part of Worldwide Partners has also been hugely beneficial – speaking to similar roles in different agencies across the globe and understanding that we’re all largely facing the same challenges. 

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?

Amy> During the pandemic and coming out of it, I think all agencies experienced a higher level of turnover. The uncertainty and need for sudden change resulting in difficult conversations was always looming. During those thankfully, exceptionally rare circumstances, it did tend to feel like you’re failing as a leader sometimes. 

It was important during this time to be open with the team and transparent about changes. Ultimately through this time period, the level of trust between myself and the team was only strengthened and built upon.  

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ardmore, Wed, 19 Apr 2023 13:44:44 GMT