Why your leadership team are so important

Written by Jonathan Ross
22 Aug 2023

Why your leadership team (and pipeline) are so important.

An effective and systematic leadership pipeline will help to:

  1. Perpetuate the organisation over many years.
  2. Enable the agency to fulfil its potential.
  3. Avoid the cycle of growth spurts followed by revenue contraction.
  4. Move owners/founders from driving agency activity to supporting the efforts of others.
  5. Increase the sales value of the agency.
  6. Provide career growth paths for talent.
  7. Identify and develop a successor.
  8. Make the owner dispensable for agency success in order to best position the agency for the owner’s transition.

Fallow Associates has deep experience in helping businesses develop the infrastructure required for identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining senior leadership teams.

What it takes to develop an ongoing talent pipeline.

To develop a strong pipeline, there are four fundamental components:

  1. Agency inflection points and their consequences.
  2. The talent and timing of hires needed for sustained growth.
  3. Recruiting and/or developing the required talent.
  4. Retaining talent.

In this post I will discuss inflection points. The other three components will be reviewed in posts over the coming weeks.

Defining Inflection Points and how to manage them.

Inflection points come at various stages of business growth. They require changes in the way the business operates. These changes occur as the owner and senior leaders get further away from the everyday details including executing programs for clients and new business development.

With each inflection point, there’s a structural shift within the organisation. The existing senior roles change, and new leadership roles emerge.

Owners need to anticipate and prepare for the next inflection point before it actually occurs. This requires:

  1. Developing a strategic growth plan to identify opportunities and challenges as well as guide investment decisions.
  2. Adopting a hiring philosophy of adding senior talent before growth.
  3. Anticipating the type of experience and capabilities required of the leadership team to handle your next level of growth.

As agencies grow, a deeper senior team with adequate assigned resources will be needed at each inflection point.

The four stages of inflection points.

Stage 1 – The start-up phase where the owner personally does or manages just about everything.

Stage 2 – The owner is now delegating some aspects of client service and operations. A few tactical client service people have been added and perhaps a manager. There’s also now an accountant.

Stage 3 – All client service and most new business development have been delegated. Senior staff are managing fully-formed client service teams.

Stage 4 – Fully evolved agency with all core functions having dedicated leadership and adequate resources for success including:

  • Managing Director with day-to-day management of the agency reporting to the owner or CEO.
  • Core functions of client service, business development, talent and operations with dedicated leadership and resources.
  • Within client service, practice leaders or revenue stream leaders running the larger accounts and revenue streams.
  • Under each revenue stream leader, client and functional teams with managers and resources.
  • Specialty leaders have emerged (Creative, digital, social, research).


Creating an evolved agency structure.

The agency’s organisation chart adjusts as the owner transitions from being the driver to becoming the supporter of the firm’s purpose and activities. As the owner’s work changes, his/her former duties are delegated to others. To be successful, these people then need more resources under them.

To sum it all up.

As agencies grow, a deeper senior team with adequate assigned resources will be needed at each inflection point.

Developing the next generation of senior talent will 1) strengthen your agency, 2) provide appealing exit options to ownership and 3) significantly increase the value of your firm.