How KWSM’s CEO Learned to Lead

Aug 2020

An effective leader’s impact continues to motivate and inspire those around them, even years into the future. Many companies today achieve greatness because of someone who influenced their leaders years before.


For the past 10 years, KWSM has been piloted by our fearless leader and President/CEO, Katie Wagner. While many of us on the team attribute our success to Katie and her tenacity and care for her employees, Katie herself credits much of her leadership skill to her father. Katie’s father was a strong leader in his business, and in their family, and the lessons he taught her can be seen throughout our entire agency and embedded in our core values. Without Katie or her father’s influence, we would not be the same hardworking, dedicated team of digital marketers that we are today.


Our Core Values Guide Us


Katie was recently published in Forbes Magazine, discussing the lessons she learned growing up and how they influence her leadership today – lessons we see as employees in every aspect of KWSM. When reflecting on the importance of core values, Katie explains, “my dad communicated our family’s core values in the way every leader should: clearly and consistently. The things we stood for were straightforward, unwavering, and without flexibility.” She went on to write, “if business owners want core values to guide employee behavior, our teams must understand and internalize expectations so that they instinctually guide decision-making.” 


At any given moment, you could turn to a KWSM team member and ask if they know our core values. Without hesitation, that team member would list them off by heart: Creative, Communicative, Team-oriented, Uncommonly organized, Passionate, Social, Loyal.  Our core values are at the center of everything we do and influence our decisions every day. It is through Katie’s leadership that we, as a team, learned to fully understand our values and how they shape the work we do and the way we interact with our clients, and each other. 


Our Team is Important


In Katie’s article in Forbes, she explains the lessons she learned in finding a place to belong. Although growing up she sometimes felt like an outsider, her father always made her feel like she was part of something. It is apparent that this experience has helped shape the way our team interacts, as culture and inclusion are always at the forefront of our management team’s initiatives. From weekly happy hours to trivia games and interactions in our private Facebook group, when you’re a part of the KWSM Team, you feel like you are a part of something bigger than just a group of employees. You know that you are making a difference.


We Have Reasons to Celebrate


Katie’s family never need a reason to celebrate her successes, they were always her #1 fans. The constant support she received was a direct influence on how Katie wants her employees to feel. In her Forbes article she writes, “my dad knew what I didn’t — that asking someone to talk about their own accomplishments never feels as good as having a cheerleader and supporter who will do it for them.” 


At KWSM, support is around every corner. Our new employees find out from day one that success is not only appreciated, it is recognized and shouted about from the rooftops. In my 4+ years at KWSM, I have been a part of numerous initiatives focused on highlighting our team’s wins, big or small. From the “kick-ass” wall made up of our team members’ greatest moments to our weekly Caught in the Act program where employees have the opportunity to recognize each other’s work, we are constantly building each other up. 


KWSM is marked with the influence of true leaders. You don’t have to search far to see how these lessons have shaped the agency we have become today. And just like her father’s influence, Katie’s own impact will continue to guide our team and our agency for many years to come. 


83% of businesses say it’s important to develop leaders at all levels. At KWSM, we agree.


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Core Values at KWSM a digital marketing agency