To be an authentic leader, you must consistently live your values. Recently on the Taking the Lead video podcast, Greg Mondshein, co-founder and managing partner at communications agency SourceCode, shared his insights on why it's less about what leaders say, and all about what they do, especially when it comes to values.

Here are excerpts from the full video interview:

I first became aware of you when SourceCode was named as a “Best Places to Work In PR”. Why was this so important to you as a leader?

We believe that being a good place to work is the lifeblood of our organization. It's not just about doing the right thing because we believe in people having a work-life balance, access to health care, proper benefits, and proper parental leave. It also just makes good business sense. These are relatively minor investments that lead to better client service, better new business, and highly engaged people. It makes recruitment easier. Having people that are balanced, capable, engaged, passionate, and happy—they just do better work, frankly.

You seem to have a very special relationship with your agency partner Rebecca Honeyman. How does she lead you? How do you lead her?

We do a lot of dividing and conquering. We make sure we're there for each other professionally and personally. When I think about what we've learned from each other, it's quite a bit. Becky is one of the best PR practitioners and client service professionals I've ever known. I follow her lead in that regard, almost as if it were gospel. I spent my career in marketing and operations and a bit of client service. So that's kind of where some natural lines are drawn and we're able to help each other get better in places where we might have been weaker before.

If you had to distill it down to only three bullets, what are your tenets of effective leadership?

This is highly relevant for us right now. We just, as a business, re-read Radical Candor. The book is a good reminder of what's really important, and as leaders, we make sure to just care about people. If you actually care about the human being that you're leading, you tend to make better decisions about how to interact with them and how to give them what they need to be successful. Second, you’ve got to walk the walk, so we want to make sure we're displaying the behaviors that we want our team to embody. Lastly, it's important to be consistent and authentic in who you are. You have to stand for something and be consistent. Live those values with a 360 approach.

Please tell us about the work of The Diversity Marketing Consortium.

It's one of the most impactful things I do on a day-to-day basis. The Diversity Consortium now has ten agencies. It's a New York State 501c3. We have partnerships with Harlem Capital and another venture capital firm in New York City, relationships with Forbes, Business Wire, and a few others. We've donated just over 1.6 million in pro-bono services to about 35 to 40 clients. It's an amazing experience that's designed to be agency friendly. You take clients when you can. They're short sprint engagements so you're not locking yourselves into a long-term relationship, and it's plug and play.

If any agency leader is interested in joining, we’re on the hunt for more agencies to join.

All of us on the leadership journey have had moments that made us wince. Please share about one of your worst leadership moments when you weren’t bringing your best, what you learned from it, and how you recovered?

To make one thing clear, I know I've got a lot to learn when it comes to leadership, and when I tried to boil it down to one instance, it came to a group of instances around the performance of accounts and employees.

There have been many times where, for me, I'm moving 100 miles per hour, and the client needs it delivered by this date or we're going to be in big trouble or there's going to be an issue. And the approach hasn't been appropriate. I've learned how to handle these situations better because we're in PR with 40 clients. These situations are going to happen often.

First and foremost, lead with empathy. It's important for you to realize that everybody's got things that they're dealing with that you may not know about. So having a little bit of humility and taking a step back to give people the opportunity to express themselves is tremendously important.

What’s your life mission?

The first is staying fit and healthy, and that is the catalyst for everything in my life. I'm a better father, husband, employer, business partner—the whole deal—when I get those endorphins from doing something every morning.

The second is being a great husband and father. For me, that's what it's all about. I've got two little girls that are eight and almost five. Helping them become strong, resilient young ladies is something I'm very focused on.

Lastly, this one's a bit selfish, but I want to get out and see the world. I don't want to be a tourist, but I want to go out and climb mountains, mountain bike down volcanoes, and do exciting stuff like that while I still can. I try to do something like that once per year.


Ken Jacobs is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, which empowers PR and communications leaders and executives to breakthrough results via executive coaching, and helps communications agencies achieve their business development, profitability, and client service goals, via consulting and training. You can find him at, [email protected] @KensViews, or on LinkedIn.