Inspirational leaders – Tammy Einav, CEO Adam&eveDDB UK & New York – Leadership in these extraordinary times

As part of Grace Blue’s continuing series of leadership talks, we were delighted to hear from Tammy Einav, CEO of agency of the decade, Adam&eveDDB.

We wanted to understand how Tammy views great leadership and of course how she has navigated the agency through these uncertain times.

Starting with the latter, Tammy discussed how when things are so uncertain and the world feels so out of control, it becomes even more important to keep open channels of communication with everyone in the agency.  Honesty, transparency and sharing are behaviours that make people feel more secure and at a time when difficult conversations and decisions are needing to be made, people are really appreciative of being kept abreast of what is happening.  Tammy talked about how she had learnt that it is perfectly acceptable to be honest about not having all the answers, and how this approach will serve you well as a leader in the long run because when you are candid with each other as a team you can challenge other to be better, rather than fearing judgement or criticism.

Honesty was a theme that resonated throughout Tammy’s talk. When discussing her own career and the factors she feels have contributed to her success, she referenced the brilliant people she has worked with and learnt from over the years and how she always asked them to be honest with her; opening herself up to feedback in order to be improve. She said this is something she continues to do today, asking her team for feedback as well as giving it to them. She went on to talk about honesty in leadership, stressing how important it is to be authentic, to lead in the way that feels natural to you and to not try to emulate others.

Talking about the agency landscape as it emerges from the COVID crisis, Tammy highlighted how the pace of response that exists now, and the increased levels of integration between agencies (made easier by the agility of virtual meetings between all the different disciplines) will be expected by clients.  As will an even deeper understanding of customers and their behaviours. The digital acceleration that has occurred during lockdown with record numbers of customers moving online will help facilitate this consumer understanding, and agencies will need to be fast and agile to keep pace, not letting process slow them down.

Looking at leadership more generally, Tammy’s perspective was that of course you need to have a vision and a set of values and then you need to create an environment that allows people to be actively involved in achieving the vision and instilling/living the values. She went on to talk about how creating and nurturing the culture of Adam&eveDDB is about allowing ideas to come from everyone.  She has sought to bring people on the journey, rather than having a hierarchy that stops them contributing ideas.  Most importantly, all ideas are championed, wherever they come from

Perhaps these are some of the reasons the agency has managed to remain so brilliant over so many years. But how do you maintain this for the future? Tammy felt that a healthy dose of paranoia will help as it encourages a constant need to want to surprise and delight people, and a belief that there is always more than can be done. Having listened to Tammy it was also clear that the culture of genuine honesty and collaboration will play a significant part in the continued success of the agency