Ad Agency Leadership in the US, UK and Australia: A mixed method analysis of effective attributes and styles

Kathleen Mortimer, Sally Laurie, Gayle Kerr, Padmini Patwardhan

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Unlike the extensive scholarship on leadership in related disciplines, research on leadership in advertising is almost non-existent. This study investigates practitioner views on attributes and styles of effective agency leaders in the US, UK, and Australia using GLOBE’s (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) Culturally Endorsed Leadership Theory. All three regions are part of GLOBE’s Anglo cultural cluster. The research examines whether the theory’s central proposition - that leadership in global contexts has universally endorsed elements but is also culturally contingent – is valid in an advertising setting. Using a mixed method approach, data were collected from agency staff and leaders via 255 survey responses and 40 depth interviews. Findings indicate the best leaders are seen as people-focused, collaboration-driven and future-oriented. Integrity, vision and inspiration are top leadership attributes with collaborative and performance-oriented leadership styles considered the most effective. Views were fairly consistent across regions with some nuanced differences. One interesting difference from main GLOBE findings is emphasis on soft skills as a core component of effective leadership. Future research should examine this further, as well as relationship between leadership and agency culture, millennial and gender differences, leadership training challenges, and also study advertising leadership across other cultural clusters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number2
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021


  • Ad agency
  • Leadership
  • US
  • UK
  • Austrailia
  • Advertising
  • Marketing


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