David Scheinberg Featured

5:15am EDT May 24, 2006
David Scheinberg never thought he would lead a company — he’s always just done the best job he could and never worried about where it would take him.

Thirteen years ago, that work ethic took him to Campbell & Co., Michigan’s largest marketing and communications firm, where he was named president three years later. Under his leadership, Campbell & Co. was named one of the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work for in Southeastern Michigan for the past four years. And now that Campbell & Co. has merged with Los Angeles-based Pacific Communications Group, Scheinberg is one of three managing partners who lead the resulting company, PCGCampbell.
Smart Business spoke with Scheinberg about how he sets a good example and rewards employees, and why it is important to delegate.

Surround yourself with good people. Choose your partners very carefully. If you are in an organization in which you have a partnership, choose those people at least as carefully as you would a spouse.

Beyond that, I think it’s very important to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Be amidst people who stimulate you and have stimulating thoughts and ideas and a lot of drive. A lot happens from there.

I find a lot of my day-to-day objective is to do everything I can to remove the obstacles that are in their way that are keeping them from doing their job, enjoying their job and being able to do great things. Once you have those great people around you, clear the path for them.

Set a good example. I’m a believer in leading by example. I like to think that as a CEO, I am in there pitching as much as everybody in ways that I hope set a good example. We’re very big on celebrating success and taking the time before we move onto to the next thing to make sure that everybody feels the right measures of pride in the things that we do here.

It’s very important to be honest and straightforward all the time. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. I don’t care if it’s small or large, but if you make a commitment, don’t forget about it. Don’t think others won’t notice if you don’t do it.

Reward people. I like to say ‘thank you’ a lot and genuinely mean it, not let it just be words but let people know how much I and the organization appreciate when a job is done well or somebody goes out of their way to do something.

You have to reward people fairly, and you have to do it with some frequency. Find ways — it can be non-monetary or monetary — to reward people on an ongoing basis, at the moment of something great having happened.

At every monthly staff meeting, we will read letters that come in, e-mails that come in0 from clients who are really over the moon on something we’ve done. We like to read those, but then we also like to take it a step further.

When we have a program that really speaks to who we are and what we do, we ask the people who were the creators and deliverers of that work to get up in front of the company at the staff meeting and tell them what they did and what was it about it that made it successful. That really lets people express their sense of pride in the job well done in front of their colleagues.

We also have a process that allows managers at all levels to make achievement awards to people. It can be a gift certificate. We’re moving so fast all the time there’s always the temptation and the risk that we’re on to the next thing before we take that breath and kind of look at each other and say, ‘Hey, that was really something special.’

Show you’re human. It’s important for people in leadership positions not to be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know the answer’ to something. There are plenty of times I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean I then won’t go and find out and get back to them.

But there is no glory in trying to pretend to know something when you don’t. Don’t be afraid to show that you are not infallible, that you make mistakes, that you misstep occasionally. We all do.

Ask questions. There are lots of times that ... I don’t know everything that is going on. I try to be curious. Listen to the answers.

There’s a lot to learn, and I learn a lot from people in this organization when they take the time to talk to me and I take the time to listen.

Delegate work. A lot of (leaders) have progressed up the ladder by virtue of doing a lot and doing it ourselves, so when it comes to a point when you really need to know how to delegate and what to push off your desk and on to someone else’s, that can be a tough thing to do, because it’s sort of going against the grain of what got you to where you are.

And some of us also tend to be a bit of control freaks, so we like to touch everything. But delegation and the ability to delegate is a very important to skill.

HOW TO REACH: PCGCampbell, (313) 336-9000 or www.pcgcampbell.com