What KWSM CEO Katie Wagner Taught Me About Leadership

Mar 2020

 While we hate to admit it, we live in a world where superheroes don’t exist. We can’t read minds, we don’t have superspeed, and even though we wish we could, we can’t just teleport to our next meeting. But not all heroes wear capes. And while we know the heroes in our lives don’t have supernatural powers, it sure does feel like it. 


For 4 years I have worked at KWSM: a digital marketing agency and have learned my fair share about the industry. What some jobs don’t teach you is how to succeed in that position beyond the daily tasks and “box ticking.” And while I have attained confidence in my marketing skills over the years and have gained more work experience than I ever would have thought, the unexpected came from what I learned beyond the job description. 


Our President and CEO, Katie Wagner, was recently published in Forbes Magazine, discussing her transformation  from chief ‘Doer’ To CEO. In the article, she expresses the need for control, and how to let that control go for the good of the company. Katie explains, “as the company grows and you hire a team, a lot of those day-to-day items come off your plate, and it’s time to give yourself a new role: CEO of your growing enterprise.”


As I’ve grown within the company, Katie has entrusted me with some of this responsibility. While assigning me these tasks means Katie is no longer doing them herself, the time I am able to free up for her means she is able to focus her attention on running the company. As our company has grown and Katie has stepped away from other day-to-day tasks, I have seen first-hand the positive changes this has brought to our team. This time allows for strategic thinking that is vital to our growth, and coaching opportunities where I get the chance to work regularly with Katie, learn from her, and receive regular feedback on my new responsibilities. This doesn’t mean Katie is “hands-off” in her position. In fact, it has provided all of us with even more opportunity to work directly with her to achieve the best results possible for the agency. 


This distinction between “doer” and CEO has taught me more about leadership and the kind of professional I continuously strive to be than I ever thought I would get from a career in the marketing world. This opportunity to learn does not come often, and it is rare to work for, and with, someone who is more than a boss, but is a leader.


Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

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