Mad Men Lessons: Support Your Team

April 22, 2013

Let’s catch up on last night’s Mad Men episode, the third from this most recent season. Peggy Olson capitalized on her ill-begotten Heinze Ketchup scoop and stole the business out from under Draper and Co. Megan Draper’s acting career heated up as Don cooled to the recent love scenes written for her character in her daytime television drama. Joan and Harry continued to struggle for respect in the office, the former as a woman and the latter as an underappreciated idea geek. Finally we got to see a little more work from the pitch men when the Heinze ad campaign was proposed, contrasting Don’s subtle implication versus Peggy’s bold, in your face feature.

This episode has me thinking of the Mad Men business lesson of the week; support your team. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce may argue internally over vision and tactics but with few exceptions, they rally when it comes to presenting a unified front on pitching clients. Pete Campbell brings in the big prospects and Don closes them. As the viewer can see from the last two seasons, the agency is growing. Last night media buyer Harry Crane had to demand support but got it from senior partner Bert Cooper.

Unfortunately, this unified support does not often translate on the home front. Pete Campbell’s careless infidelity will probably cost him his first marriage and Don’s extramarital intra apartment dalliance with the neighbor’s wife, coupled with his spectacularly hypocritical lack of support for Megan’s career casts a dark shadow over their relationship.

Supporting your team should be conventional wisdom. Business by nature is competitive and often confrontational. We’ve written about the importance of knowing yourself and knowing your business. If that knowledge translates into a coherent vision, the next obvious ingredient is empowering your people and supporting them. In Mad Men we watch Don Draper show his age. He is from another time and as the sixties start to rage, fee love is on display and a new openness threatens to overturn the old order. My prediction is that by the end of the final season, Don will lose the support of his team if he can’t conform his ideas to the new generation. Thoughts?