Serving in the military provides a unique perspective on leadership. In this episode of the podcast, Waypoint partner Matt Lacey sat down with former US marine Justin Lewis to learn about his very personal form of leadership at Constellation, a collective of best-in-class agencies within challenger network, Stagwell.

Justin’s take on leadership is inspiring and he speaks with great passion. There is much here for new and experienced agency heads alike to learn as well as for entrepreneurs looking to build best in class businesses. When he was not long out of the marines and working out what to do as a civilian, Justin fell in love with the new online world and learnt to code. He went on to found digital agency, Instrument with his two partners, bringing to bear the skills honed in the military, to successfully grow the business and eventually sell to MDC (now part of Stagwell).

Justin’s interpretation of culture is an unusual one. He believes that a corporate culture should never be fixed at a point in time. Instead, it should flex whenever there is a new arrival on the team. Only by doing this can it remain meaningful to everyone in the business, while taking care not to lose sight of its north star. That is a difficult balance to tread.

Justin provides some great examples of what he learnt from his time in the marines. How to bring people with you on a journey; how to make them feel like they matter by remembering something unique about them even when there are several hundred people in a team; how to define values that are authentic to the agency and that everyone can identify with.

Matt and Justin agree that growing a business is about so much more than numbers on a balance sheet. If there is a poor culture or the leaders are not aligned, then that’s becomes evident pretty clearly and a buyer like Justin will quickly walk away.  

For incredible insight into great leadership, like nothing you’ve heard before, click here for our latest episode of Waypointers.

Waypointers Episode 30: A former US marine’s guide to agency leadership – in conversation with Justin Lewis, chair of Constellation (part of the Stagwell Group)

Published 20th March 2024