Declaration: All jobs require social emotional intelligence.
It’s one of the most valuable skills a person can possess and one of the most challenging to learn. Social emotional intelligence is about understanding people, how they work, how they communicate, and what drives them. It’s being able to determine – based on the situation and the person – the best way to work and communicate.
A leader with social emotional intelligence elevates the team, the work, and builds an environment for growth.
In an agency setting, account management requires social emotional intelligence in spades. Whether you are an account associate or an account director, the client services team acts as the conductor and peacekeeper across clients, vendors, leadership, and all internal teams – each with unique needs (*demands) and styles.
A necessary skill in being an emotionally intelligent account manager is the ability to have difficult conversations. When you navigate the space between client and agency needs on a daily basis, there’s no way to avoid it.
^Navigating the space between client and agency needs.
Being the voice of your client to your team, and the voice of your team to your client will frequently put you in an uncomfortable place. You will have to deliver unpopular news, enforce a timeline that conflicts with personal schedules, and tell people things they don’t want to hear. Sounds pretty tough, doesn’t it?
It can be. But the best advice on how to have difficult conversations I have ever heard comes from one of my ultimate superheroes – Brene Brown.
She boils it down to the simplest terms: Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.
The best way to have difficult conversation is to be clear.
With the client you will need to be honest when something is not working. You will need to be open about mistakes to build a relationship on trust. Budget and finance conversations can be awkward, but being straightforward and transparent is the best way to handle them.
It can be tempting to hide behind email, or avoid the tough conversations all together, but in the end, it will make your job more difficult. Muddling these conversations causes frustration and confusion, and will ultimately take more of your time and energy.
With internal teams – whether it be creatives, developers, accountants, or whoever you work with at your agency – clear communication is the way. Set clear expectations upfront, be transparent as things change, and talk to people rather than about them.
Tough conversations are tough. You don’t have to pretend they aren’t. You can say it! You can acknowledge the conversation is going to be challenging.
While uncomfortable in the moment, being clear opens the door to productive and respectful conversations.
With a career in account management, you will not be able to deliver perfection. We are all going to make mistakes, and it will be impossible to please everyone. But you can be honest. You can be a clear communicator. You can build relationships on trust and respect and set the tone for the team.
And if you can do that, you will build a fantastic career in account management! And really, a fantastic career in whatever you pursue.
To learn more and participate in the discussion, please come to our event on the social emotional intelligence involved in account (and people) management on October 16th at the ISL office. RSVP here!