doing and leading are different things

In my previous life, there was a question I always asked myself when I was a couple years into a gig: “Do they really believe they’re leading the company?”

The answer is yes. Yes, because they were typically delusional enough to think that just because they invested time and money by hiring a big agency to help them create a mission, vision, and values and engaging staff in these beliefs was leading.

Well, no. No it was not.

Why? Because if I’ve learned one thing about leadership, it’s that the true leaders were in the trenches of the day-to-day, regardless of their workload or title. They practiced what they preached. They knew that in order to create a culture full of believers and followers, you have to lead by example. They were courageous and went to bat for those they believed in. They admitted fault and were humble. They understood the roles of those who helped their company succeed.

They did not just dictate from their ivory tower.

Case in point: I used to work for a company way back in the early days of my career. Let’s just call it what it was: the bay of married pigs. I was 24. Impressionable and wanting to climb the proverbial ladder. I was one of 2 ladies in marketing working for a company full of mostly men. Who had egos. Who made loads of cash. And those who had wives AND girlfriends. You get the picture.

When I commiserated to my mother about the culture and misogynistic-like mentality, her reply was “well, can’t you tell the CEO? Does he know this is going on?”

My reply was “its the culture and mentality he built mom. He’s the worst offender of them all.”

My point is, the “leader” of this said company set the tone for everything and anything that was deemed acceptable by those who worked for him. He likely thought he was leading, but in fact, he was not. He was doing.

Doing all the wrong things.

“Leading” and “doing” are two completely different things. And often, those who think they are leading are simply just doing and dictating and they’re doing this from their corner office where they aren’t really involved in the day-to-day activities of their business.

Great leaders lead their staff to greatness. They lead the company in the right direction. They lead and live the vision, mission and values they spent countless hours and endless money in trying to create. They do a better job at mobilizing the people inside their organization. Or, in other words, success in leadership is all about having great ideas and then finding ways to make these ideas actually happen. While being involved and immersed in the process.

Leadership is earned and one needs to be present. Practice what they preach. Lead by example. These are all great traits of a true leader.

Doers are those who just expect the work to be done while excluding and isolating themselves from the process.

Leaders .jpg

In Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last”, the message is simple: the buck stops at the leader’s desk. In other words, those of us that lead may not always understand the impact that our leadership roles actually have on those we lead. The depth and breadth of leadership cascades down from the executive board to management, which in turn, cascades down to the soldiers that march in and out of the battlefield of the organization on a daily basis shaping the culture of the environment….which comes full circle back up to the one that leads, as a direct reflection of his or her leadership.

Those leading from the top will inevitably get back what they put in when it comes to their leadership skills. Good or bad.

Simon Sinek outlines some great leadership traits, some of which I’ve been a witness to. Some of which I personally believe, creates a well-lead culture and environment:

  • Circle of Safety - Focus on helping one another rather than “one-upping” each other to make management happy. When we know and trust the people inside our Circle of Safety, they will look out for us and protect us from the dangers on the outside, we’re more likely to freely exchange information and ideas that will move the organization forward. One of the biggest habits you can develop in order to cultivate our Circle of Safety is….Empathy. It’s a crucial commodity because to truly lead, you need to be empathetic to those who hustle and go to bat for you every day for both you and your business.

  • Walk the halls - If you don’t know what your staff is doing, and how they operate day-to-day, then you can’t connect with them on a personal level, not to mention, you’re missing out on something great. The people on the ground floor look out for each other, so be a part of that and insert yourself.

  • Autonomy matters - I’ve never heard anyone say “I love being micromanaged”. Creating autonomy for those who work for you is the biggest way to gain trust and it allows the person to do the job they were hired to do. Give them the power to make decisions. Give them more control. Trust goes a long way.

  • Keep your team informed - there is nothing worse than when your team is the last to know. Be a leader by trusting them to keep things confidential, but also show them that they are a huge part of the company’s growth and success. If you can’t trust your team with proprietary information, then you’ve got the wrong people on the bus. We had a GGOB system at one company I worked for. More on this method can be found here.

  • Environment at work - When the environment at work is one of encouragement, and one that meets the basic human needs to live, to learn, to feel valued and significant, we do more than just survive. We thrive.

  • Show courage, passion, and humility - Be fearless in the worst of times, show passion for the work you do and that includes what drives you to greatness every day. Confidence is good; egos and arrogance are toxic. This is the quickest way to isolate people.

  • Manage your own stress - No one wants to see a leader lose their shit in front of staff. Stress and anxiety at work is palpable and often creates a stressful, unproductive environment. Don’t induce fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going get their trust. Manage your own stress and be the leader you wish you had.

why marketing should be seen as a key contributor and not a cost centre

Have you ever had something in your career worth fighting for? Trying to explain the importance of why what you do is worth far more than just the money you spend to do it?

I bet you have. And full disclosure: I have too.

Maybe I’ve been working for the wrong companies all along, but I doubt it. There have been companies I’ve worked with who understand the importance of marketing, what it contributes to and have been willing to spend the money necessary.

Marketing is, always will be and should be seen as a key contributor to any business. Period.

I don’t just say this because I’m a “marketer” but because marketing is more than just logos, visual identity and mission statements. It’s the anchor of a company’s brand and growth whether you like it or not.

Let me explain. This post was inspired by another fantastic email newsletter I subscribe to (more on that later) and they covered a story on how the landscape of ad agencies is changing, resulting in the emergence of small agency-focused consultancies. They are in fact slowly replacing a lot of traditional agencies as we know them today. Clients want to think beyond advertising and communication, re-imagining the way brands connect with customers (source).

At the end of the day, they want to influence how marketing should be seen as a key contributor and not a cost centre and as a result, there has been an increase of business owners showing greater interest in the consultants’ approach (umm hello, now you’re speaking my language). Their intent is to have a far greater analysis on a brand and its customers landscape, and then using that intel to identify opportunities, and creating a programme to deliver that opportunity while monitoring its progress and impact.

Why?

It’s simple: marketing affects every cornerstone of every business. Storytelling, campaigns, visual identity, public relations, advertising, digital media and platforms, internal communications, promotions & events, sales, management, training, printing & collateral, business relationships, signage, strategic partnerships, trademarking etc. The list goes on and on and on.

So why aren’t company’s see marketing as a key contributor? Maybe the better question is: why do company’s struggle so much to make the investment in marketing, while understanding the value it offers, at all stages of a company’s growth? Yes it costs money, but so does everything else to run a business. It’s really that simple.

As a consultant where it’s basically feast or famine, part of what I do is educate clients on the importance of marketing as a whole being very systematic in my approach. It’s an investment towards the brand and strategic growth of any business, whether they’re starting from scratch (no visual identity or a rebrand) or if they’re in the midst of creating a strategic plan to take them to the next level of growth.

Big or small, new or old, there needs to be a shift and reconsideration on the importance marketing has on any business. Just like everything else, it’s an investment and often it’s a big one, but the results pay in dividends and always have positive, long-term benefits.

the rebrand of a company

Here we are. On the cusp of yet another year. Another chapter closed. Another full year of joyous occasions, heartbreak, new opportunities, growth, lessons learned and so much more. They are all now in the books.

2019, I am soooooo ready for you.

But as we close in on another year, I am opening a new chapter. I have turned the corner. I have made the leap (again), I am ready for a clean slate and I am ready to get down to business.

when you stretch a department too thin, all in the spirit of saving money

I've always been intrigued by how companies run their departments. Their hiring practices, how they function and operate day-to-day, how they budget, delegate and achieve the tasks at hand. More importantly, how they scale their department. 

Here's what I've seen time and time again: companies believing that if they contract out the majority of roles not only saves them money, but it supposedly benefits everyone involved.

the future of content marketing is outside the marketing department

Here’s an interesting thought: What if a company’s content was everyone’s responsibility to help levitate, build and grow a brand? I loved this article from The Knowledge Bank because it got me thinking about this very topic that a lot of senior executives roll their eyes at. I've always encouraged companies I've worked for to do the same because there are just some things that should not be restricted to just one department.

Think about it….traditionally, content has always been the responsibility of the marketing team because they strategize and create all the content specific collateral from advertising campaigns to digital media. They are often the ones to set the rules, know the voice and the brand, development the content and dictate where it is to be used and how it is to be used.

But times they are a-changin. It’s been a slow evolution, but over the past 8 years, content marketing’s growth has exploded and for great reason. It’s one of the most important things a company can do: to invest in their content, remain streamlined in their messaging, offer various ways to promote their content and involve the entire company in doing so.

when workplace cultures support paternity leave, all employees benefit

Culture.

It's still a buzz word that can be applied to anything and any type of business, but over the past couple decades, it's often referenced a little too loosely. Some companies get it and work hard to not only put a great culture into practice, but work even harder to implement and follow through on their promises, core values, vision etc.

Other companies say they have a culture, but management from the top down don't live it or act on it and therefore, don't follow through. Yet they expect their employees to. They basically don't practice what they preach. 

I've seen it all too often and have worked for some companies who have flawed cultures and systems in place. They either want to make a job posting look amazing to get great applicants or they do it to 'fluff up' their "Top Company" nominations and submissions. Or they expect the employees to follow through, but not top management. Whatever it is, its nothing but fake news if you ask me. And I hate Trump, but the reference was appropriate.

here goes nothing

Back in late 2015 I started a blog. 

I realize that there are a ca-jillion blogs out on the interweb, but I didn't care. This wasn't a lifestyle blog, I wasn't planning to make money off of it and I wasn't going to be collaborating with any products or services.

I simply started the blog because my life was about to take a major upheaval. Leaving my life, job, family and friends all behind in the city of Vancouver to start a new life with my fiancee in his hometown of Grande Prairie, AB.