7 Agency Leadership Lessons From Famous TV Dads

Agency Leadership Lessons Gleaned from TV Dads Hero Image

QUICK SUMMARY: 

Explore leadership lessons from famous television dads and their relevance to leading a digital marketing agency. Learn how these iconic characters demonstrate patience, adaptability, and empathy, providing valuable insights into nurturing team creativity, upholding accountability, and fostering a collaborative and innovative work environment.

With Father’s Day right around the corner–not to mention the highs and lows of closing Q2 and beginning Q3–there’s no better time to take leadership inspiration from unexpected sources. 

Surprisingly, some of the most profound leadership lessons come from the famous television dads of today and yesterday. These iconic characters, from the wise and steady to the quirky and unconventional, offer timeless insights into building trust, fostering innovation, and leading with empathy. 

Join us as we explore seven leadership lessons illustrated by these beloved TV dads, and discover how their approaches will inspire and transform your own leadership style at your digital marketing agency.

Is Agency Leadership a Bit Like Parenting?

You bet it is. Of course your colleagues and employees are not your children–and you wouldn’t treat them as such. But that’s because being the boss, much like being the parent, is more about what you do than about what they do. You can’t control how they act; you can only control yourself.

As the captain of your agency ship, your job is to motivate, guide, and support your team through various stages of growth and development and nurture the culture you want for your agency. 

I learned this a long time ago, from my dad: You want to build relationships with your clients, to the point that they are comfortable picking up the phone and asking you a question, and that they know you're always available to talk to them. This leads back to AgencyAnalytics in a way–you want to show clients that you're working for them, and that what you're doing is is providing value for them.

Kevin Watts, President, Raincross

Being a parent, as well as a leader, requires patience, adaptability, and the ability to inspire confidence and independence. It’s a balancing act of setting boundaries and ensuring accountability, as well as fostering room for creativity, learning, and even mistakes. 

In a digital marketing agency, this translates to guiding teams through creative processes, managing client expectations, and navigating industry changes—all while building a cohesive, collaborative, and innovative culture.

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Top 7 Agency Leadership Lessons from TV Dads

As you manage your own cast of characters at your marketing agency, it’s always wise to keep your eye on a mentor or two. In the tough moments, look to these sources of inspiration for lessons on how to stay calm and remain focused on the big picture goals you’re trying to achieve.

Take a page from these 7 iconic TV dads the next time you need a little bit of extra encouragement along your leadership journey.

Lesson 1: Keep Sight of Your Purpose 

TV Dad: Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)

Who better to kick us off than the most iconic of all TV Dads, the star of the longest-running American sitcom? 

As 35 seasons have proved, there aren’t many things agency leaders will want to emulate from Homer Simpson. He isn’t strategic, organized, dignified, or terribly motivated. 

But even if you aren’t ultra-familiar with the show, you’ve probably seen that iconic scene where Homer plasters his workspace with photos of his daughter Maggie to help keep his morale afloat. It’s a surprisingly touching stroke of brilliance for a character who’s best known for making mistakes and shouting “Doh!”

In many ways, your marketing agency is your baby–the reason you get up and do what you do every day. So, take a leaf out of Homer’s book and don’t lose sight of your bigger vision, your highest purpose. 

Agency Tip: To help keep your North Star top of mind, we recommend taking the time to enshrine your company values and mission statement into a living document that is widely shared and continuously revisited by everyone at your agency. 

There are pictures. I keep them where I need the most cheering up.

Homer Simpson

Lesson 2: Do Your Duty and Don’t Lose Your Head

TV Dad: Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)

Things are going to get dicey from time to time. Tempers will flare, profits will falter. Good employees will leave and bad employees will run amok. 

No one plays the marketing agency game of thrones without getting a little burned. The trick is to keep your composure and set the tone for steady, reliable professionalism no matter what circumstances are thrown your way.

Think about Ned Stark, and the honorable, measured way he does everything, from schooling his children to laying down the law with deserters and usurpers. Even in the face of certain death, he doesn’t lose his composure.

The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

Ned Stark

Thankfully, you won’t have to swing any swords, and you don’t have to face the toughest aspects of agency life on your own. But you do have a duty to your colleagues and to yourself to maintain a high standard of respect, integrity and dignity, even when others are falling to pieces. 

We have some core values at Rotate Digital that we stand strong and firm in. Part of that is ownership and accountability. It is a sacrifice of time sometimes, in favor of serving others. 

Travis Weathers, CEO / FOUNDER, Rotate Digital

Lesson 3: Share Your Unique Perspective

TV Dad: Frank Costanza (Seinfeld)

When you’re in the digital marketing trenches, it can be pretty easy to fall into a routine. Leverage the same layouts for landing pages or emails. Rehash the same blog topic with a slightly different spin. Use the same methodology to come up with an SEO strategy to boost traffic.

That’s where you come in. As their leader, your staff will look to you for a unique take in an overcrowded space, for permission to be a little “out there”.

Just think about the passion and conviction with which Frank Constanza marketed his new holiday, Festivus. Seriously: He had a great backstory, catchphrase, and everything. Much like Frank, you’ve probably been around the block once or twice, and that gives you a bevy of experience, opinions, and stories to fuel your creativity.

As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way!

Frank Costanza 

Lesson 4: Stick To Your Values as an Individual, Employer, and Agency

TV Dad: Ted Lasso (Ted Lasso)

It’s no wonder Ted Lasso was one of the highest streamed shows last year. Ted’s leadership as a father-figure to a motley crew of goofy, misguided footballers is the kind of sweet, feel-good content that practically anyone can enjoy. Ted never wavers from his deep-set values of optimism and kindness–even when he is mocked, betrayed, underestimated (or even divorced!).

As a leader, one of the most important things you can do for your agency is know who you are and be comfortable with yourself. You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not. If you’re not into pickleball, that’s OK. If you’re not a cutthroat mercenary, don’t act like one. 

While you can’t let your hair all the way down, you can build your brand as a leader based on the qualities and values that are most authentic to you. That’ll look different on everyone. Whether you’re hiring, firing, providing constructive criticism, or making one of the million decisions you’ll be asked to make today, stick to your values and you’ll do OK.

You know what you do with tough cookies, don’t ya? Dip ‘em in milk.

Ted Lasso

Lesson 5: Be Here Now

TV Dad: Bandit Heeler (Bluey)

If there’s one thing Bandit–the big blue dad dog–can do, it’s commit to the bit. No matter what his daughters come up with, he’s all in. From dress-up to make believe, storytelling to playing tag, Bandit is always fully immersed in whatever game or activity he and his children are up to–with hilarious (and effective) results.

Of course, you don’t need to pull the kind of crazy preschooler antics that make Bandit so loveable and fun. But you can follow his lead and be present

As a marketing agency owner or leader, you’re likely swamped in stress and challenges. Maybe you’re a super multi-tasker, or maybe you find yourself mentally working on other aspects of your business rather than giving your full attention to the task at hand. 

It’s to be expected, but, where you can, try to slow down and be in the moment. Commit fully to the one thing you’re supposed to be doing at that moment. If you’re in a meeting, be in the meeting. It’s not the time to answer emails. If you’re at home with your family, be with your family. You might be surprised how much more effective you are with your colleagues and employees when they have your undivided attention.

Agency Tip: One of the biggest challenges of being present is that you have so much on your plate. Learning how to delegate effectively will help with that.

You better stick the landing, Pat!

Bandit Heeler

Lesson 6: Never Stop Building Your True Community

TV Dad: Din Djarin AKA “Mando” (The Mandalorian) 

What makes Jon Favreau’s Star Wars series so surprisingly charming is that a character easily perceived to be a lone wolf proves time and again to be a team player. “The Mandalorian” follows the progression of Mandalorian Din Djarin from ruthless, isolated bounty hunter to adoptive Dad of little Grogu (AKA “Baby Yoda”). But along the way, Din also becomes an ally and friend to a host of aliens and people just trying to make their way in this new post-empire galaxy.

The key here is that Din isn’t building his network in a self-serving way. Instead, by allowing himself to be honest, vulnerable, and helpful–many times against his better judgment–he ends up with allies who have got his back through thick and thin. You can do the same.

This is the way.

Din Djarin

Lesson 7: Don’t Check Out…Even When the Chips Are Down

TV Dad: Johnny Rose (Schitt’s Creek)

Johnny Rose gets a big dose of reality when he and his family lose their wealth and are forced to move into a motel in the backwater town of Schitt’s Creek. Gradually, though, Johnny’s eyes are opened to the merits of hard work and of the small-town motel business. 

There's going to be challenges. As a marketing agency, not everything you do is going to work. I think it’s about embracing the challenges and staying positive and looking at them as learning opportunities. You have to be resilient in marketing because it is hard. 

Brock Murray, Co-founder & COO, SEOPlus+

Johnny learns to appreciate the quirks of his newfound companions, and has the courage to pitch a business idea to a boardroom of his former peers. It doesn’t go as planned, but when one door closes, another one opens. 

The point is, there may come a day where you feel like you are up the proverbial Schitt’s Creek. Leading a digital marketing agency is never a linear path to success. When that happens, don’t give up.

Why are we here? …Because we have a great idea.

Johnny Rose

The Best TV Father Figures Show Us What It Means To Lead From Within

We hope this lighthearted look back at some of the most beloved dads of present and past television made you smile, and maybe reflect. 

It’s easy to get swept up in the hurricane of tasks and responsibilities that comes with running a successful digital agency–and it’s not often that there’s time to pause and consider how your leadership style is impacting your business.

Whether you consider yourself a “father figure” or not, this is your gentle reminder that your colleagues and employees are looking to you: for guidance, insight, and direction. At times, that might feel like a heavy mantle, but it’s also a precious opportunity to step into the role you were always meant to play.

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Elyse Gagné bio

Written by

Elyse Gagné

Elyse Gagné develops branding and content strategies that unite businesses with their customers. A podcast junkie, you'll find her learning about the latest technologies and brand storytelling techniques while she gardens or hikes.

Read more posts by Elyse Gagné ›

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