Communication skills: Effective leaders are skilled communicators who are able to clearly convey their vision and expectations to their team, as well as listen to and consider the ideas and feedback of others. I absolutely love bouncing ideas back and forth with members of the team.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Hurst of Sherbet Donkey Media.

Lucy Hurst is Managing Director and co-founder of Sherbet Donkey Media. The leadership approach taken at this digital marketing agency has taken the business from strength to strength, having started out with just four employees less than two years ago, there are now in excess of thirty members of staff and the agency is still recruiting to ensure that they cater to all the needs of their clients. All while ensuring their growing staff aren’t treated like numbers and that they are welcomed into the fold from day dot.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I’m really excited about 2023. I can see business booming even more than last year. We’ve got numerous projects that we’re working on already and more in the pipeline.

As many of your readers will probably know, my work is my baby. That said, I’ve got some other stuff in the pipeline which will be hard work, however, also very rewarding.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

I’d say it’s probably the leaders in the past that I have hated working under. Pretty much everyone has had an awful boss or manager. I’ve essentially learnt from their mistakes to create a more positive working environment where members of staff don’t feel like numbers.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

There have been times where I have lost my bearings in the past and it took friends to help me regain them. I discovered that I’m a much stronger person as a result.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

When I was first thrown into a management position, I think I probably threw my weight around too much. Since then, I’ve learnt that I don’t need to do that to be considered a leader and it makes a lot nice working environment for everyone not doing that.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

I think if you stop any behavior suddenly and out the blue, people are going to ask questions, it’s better to adapt one’s behavior.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

One of the interview questions I’ve learnt to always ask is “what are you motivated by?”. That way, if we do take that candidate on, I know what will keep them pushing on behalf of the company.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

Leadership is an evolving art. What may have kept an office of men motivated twenty years ago isn’t going to cut it in today’s day and age.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

  • Don’t throw your weight around
  • Be prepared to lead by example
  • Don’t treat people like they’re just another number
  • You don’t even need to act like you’re “the boss” half the time and you certainly shouldn’t be reminding your employees of that unless entirely necessary. You should only be “the boss” behind closed doors.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now? Please share a story or an example for each.

Effective leaders usually exemplify a variety of positive traits that help them lead their teams effectively. It’ll vary entirely from leader to leader with each having their own positive traits, however here what I believe mine are:

  1. Willingness to work hard and go the extra mile: Starting and growing a business is next level hard work however if you’re willing to put the hard work into your dream then it can pay off. There have been times that I’ve been working into the early hours of the morning, but it was with the bigger picture in mind.
  2. Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Effective leaders are able to use their emotional intelligence to create a positive work environment and build strong relationships with team members. That said, I do have to pre-warn people that I scowl when I’m concentrating!
  3. Communication skills: Effective leaders are skilled communicators who are able to clearly convey their vision and expectations to their team, as well as listen to and consider the ideas and feedback of others. I absolutely love bouncing ideas back and forth with members of the team.
  4. Adaptability: The ability to pivot when circumstances change is an important trait for leaders to have. Effective leaders are able to pivot and come up with new strategies when faced with challenges or changes in the work environment.
  5. Integrity: Integrity is a key trait for leaders to exemplify, as it involves being honest, ethical, and transparent in one’s actions and decision-making. People are more likely to trust and respect leaders who are known for their integrity.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote?

I think that’s a great quote to live by. You never know what each day has in store for you. There have been days when I’ve come into work and got numerous results which is always a win, I go home and feel like I’ve gotten a win. There have been other days when we need to deal with a “bad apple” or a misogynistic customer, they inevitably try to make personal remarks, when they do, I just think “what kind of mindset do you have to have to say that sort of thing?”. It’s water off a duck’s back as I know the problem lies their end.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

I’d like the name Sherbet Donkey Media to be synonymous with the best quality websites and SEO that gets results. On a more personal note, I’d like my name to by synonymous with entrepreneurship and making businesses work. I want to achieve as much as possible.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

They’re probably best to follow the company page on LinkedIn

Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.