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Turning Leadership Challenges into Opportunities

If you’re a regular to Leading FWD, you might notice I’m a new face to this month’s edition. So before we go any further, I’d like to introduce myself.

My name is Cynthia Price and I’m the Senior Vice President of Marketing here at Litmus. As part of that role, I’ll have the honor of contributing to Leading FWD. I’m sure most of you know that the continuous disruptions and pivots we’ve all experienced over the last few years have made marketing (and for that matter, being a human) anything but smooth sailing.

While we have heard we are now in some semblance of the “new normal,” business as our pre-pandemic, 2019-selves knew it is far from that. Whether you’ve always managed a remote team, had a hybrid arrangement, or once saw your team at the office everyday, the shifts in how we now operate have drastically changed the way many of us once connected with our colleagues.

But I believe that it ultimately underscores the importance of leadership and what it really means to guide a team through some extremely challenging professional and personal times. After talking to some of my colleagues in other companies, I realized that it all comes down to three key components that I think can help us all in our efforts to champion our teams to success.

Communicate clear goals and trust the team you put in place

During this time of “Great Resignation,” I have learned to reevaluate my leadership approach on the hiring and development sides of my team. With so many job opportunities out there, I’ve had to take the time to reflect on what’s necessary to foster a successful team. 

People are no longer looking for “just a job;” they are looking for the total package—workload, flexibility, dynamics, challenges, fulfillment, benefits, and compensation. I love that at Litmus, we encourage people to apply even if they don’t perfectly fit the job description. Skills can be taught but character, enthusiasm, and passion are unique to each individual. 

People want to feel valued for their work and as a person; companies want employees to be loyal and engaged. This has emphasized the importance of nurturing individual talents and helping teammates come together to create a solid and trusted force. 

I believe it all starts by communicating clear goals, individually and collectively, and translating those into actionable measures. This is really a trickle down effect starting with the company goals, department goals, team goals, and ending with individual goals. These should all be communicated conversationally to answer questions and clearly define ways to measure success. While goals should be aggressive to help business—and the individual—advance, it’s equally important to make sure the team knows how their marketing-specific work has an impact. 

For example, the rest of the business may not necessarily understand why we’d celebrate things like an increase in new organic traffic, but as a team we need to set those targets as leading indicators for how we drive business value.

Advocate for your team’s success

It’s important for leaders to know how to empower your team. Often, this means working to remove barriers and advocating across departments for information or resources they need to achieve their goals–and knowing when to get out of the way. Trust that you have done your due diligence by hiring and nurturing a team of smart individuals, let them blaze the trail and invite every team member to come to the table with a willingness to learn and grow.

Of course it’s important to maintain open communication throughout the process and leading by example, but to truly help team members thrive, give them autonomy to develop processes that work for their needs and departments. Regardless of wins and losses, you’ll all walk away with new perspectives on how to work smarter as a collective unit, and refine processes you may not have considered.  

Create meaningful connections

One of the most challenging aspects of managing and developing remote teams is finding ways to stay connected, and feel like a solid unit. This likely looks different depending on the company you work for, the department you run, and maybe even the personalities you manage. And that’s ok. The important thing to remember is to work to develop a true sense of team, whatever that looks like for your business. 

Keep a consistent and open dialogue to support employees, checking in regularly. Get a temperature check on workload burnout before it’s a problem. Set aside a few minutes at the start of every meeting just to discuss how people are doing, on and off the clock. Consciously addressing individuals as people will create happier employees that will only help facilitate team success.

If we have learned anything over the past couple of years, it’s the importance of being human—in and out of the workplace. As leaders, we should be heading the charge in this effort to advocate for a renewed perspective on management, and paving the way for success for the future leaders we are developing. By empowering employees, valuing collaboration and collective knowledge, and adapting to a changing work culture, we all grow into better versions of ourselves.

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