There are many more experienced business leaders than me and many psychologists and authors on the subject who can speak to this very thoroughly, and this is not directly related to digital so why am I writing about this? Simply put, you cannot lead your digital strategy if you don’t know how to lead.
I have built and led many teams small and large at businesses of all shapes and sizes. I have worked for leaders both inspirational and frustrating. There are a number of things that make a good leader so I wanted to put my take on this together.
1. It’s not about being loved
I’ve had some great bosses down the years in terms of getting on with them. The kind of people I would gladly go out to dinner with or introduce my partner to. I’ve had some fun offices which I look back on fondly. None of those bosses however, taught me anything. I loved my time working with them but I didn’t move forward in my career under those guys. That’s not to say you can’t be a good leader and a fun boss but that alone doesn’t make you one.
2. Knowledge is power
In my opinion you cannot lead without understanding what you’re leading. You don’t need to be an expert in every area by any means – that’s why you hire the experts. But you do need to have enough of a grip to be able to understand what’s happening and make the key decisions. Your opinion is not enough. It must be grounded in some basis of fact or experience. Without this you are likely to lead your experts down the wrong path and also really frustrate them. Ultimately they’ll leave and a leader without a team is not going anywhere.
3. Clarity of vision is essential
Your team must know where you’re going. How can people work towards an achievement if they don’t know what it is. Ideally they should also know why so they’re not just drones but a key part and even driving force behind the journey. Taking it a step further, it’s not only important that your team know where you’re going but you have to as well. You cannot move from one tactical panic to another. Having a strategy and a set of goals and objectives that everyone can work towards ensures the best and fastest outcome. More on how to build your strategy in my book ‘Digital Marketing Strategy’.
4. Communication must be strong
If you’re not a good communicator then you need to work on that. Whether it’s communicating upwards or with your team you need to be able to succinctly put your points forward to motivate people and get them on board. Communication is where most organizations go wrong. Bring your team, your stakeholders, your customers and your seniors on the journey through effective communication.
5. Organization is mandatory
If you’re a mess then everyone working for you will be a mess. This is definitely a feature that permeates down. Even organized people will give up and become less organized if they work for others with that characteristic. Have a clear plan with milestones. Document it. Meet regularly with clear agendas (but keep those meetings punchy). Know your budgets and processes. Even the best leaders in the world will fail if they are disorganized. And if you’re terrible at it then find someone who’s great at it and let them help you.
I mentioned above that your people are not your drones. All of them will be better than you at something. You are not there to look down on them and be the almighty boss. You exist to support them, help them develop, let them show how great they are and to enable them to deliver the results you need. Show them respect. Find out about them, their background and their motivations. I often see bosses assuming that someone in a role is only capable of that when actually then have some other great skills that are not being tapped into. A designer may also be an email expert, a branding expert may also be a great copywriters. Know your team and show them respect.
There’s much more to being a leader of course but for me, with these 6 tips followed, you’ll be a better leader than most.
For more on building your strategy and getting your plan organized and in place just pick up a copy of my best selling book, ‘Digital Marketing Strategy’.