If you’re a marketing leader, chances are you’ve come from somewhere to get where you are today. You’ve put in the groundwork to lead and manage a team of marketers. You have experience.
Experience is often necessary, but a drawback of experience is bias. We all have biases in some way or other, especially when it comes to opinions on processes and plans for how things should be done at work.
It looks like this. You’re under a lot of pressure as management, and you know how to do things in a way that generates results. You’ve done it before and you know it like the back of your hand. As well as pressure to produce results, you’re also under time constraints. It needs to be done yesterday. So you tell your team how the task is going to be done and the task gets done. But is it always completed to the highest quality? Do you always get the results you were expecting? Chances are, the answer is no. And things change: technology, algorithms, trends, out-of-the-blue pandemics..
The truth is that at work we all use our biases. We solve problems by thinking ‘how have I done this before? What worked in the past? What tools did I use? And how can I apply them to this new situation so we can all move on quickly.’
This can be detrimental to yours and your team’s success. Maintaining a closed mindset could be the reason why the way you’ve done it before is no longer working. And it can also create a toxic environment for the whole team who feel like their ideas aren’t being heard or their opinion undervalued.
In this blog we’re going to delve into why being an open-minded marketing leader is so important and how you can shift your perspective to become one, inspiring and empowering your team at the same time.
How to be an open-minded leader
Recognize when you’re being close-minded
If you want to be the best marketing leader, you need to be open-minded. Ask yourself this:
- How often do you ask others for their opinions and really listen and action them?
- When someone questions your approach or gives constructive criticism, what weight do you give to that opinion? Do you still think your idea is better anyway?
- Do you dictate to your team what the plan is, or is everyone heard equally?
Accept that you’re not always right and that no one can be
As humans we hate being told we’re wrong, it’s a form of rejection. Truth is, it’s impossible for one person to be right all the time. And while sometimes you might not necessarily be wrong, you might be stuck in black and white thinking, instead of looking for the grey area.
Instead, encourage a collaborative conversation with your team. For example:
- Ask for their opinions before going ahead with your idea. Key to this is to also genuinely mean it, listen properly and implement their ideas.
- Plan workshops and team activities to problem solve together, which can encourage ideas from less vocal team members. You can also do this cross-departments as you never know what great idea someone might have bubbling away.
- Hack days or hackathons – are days or half days where everyone stops working and instead creates something or works on something of their choice. The best example of this is Gmail which was made by Computer Engineer, Paul Buchheit, during the 20% creative time Google gives their employees to work on personal projects.
Empowering your team in this way will inspire them to push boundaries and deliver different results, helping you build a better-performing team.
Team diversity is also really important here. Those from the same background and cultures are more likely to share similar ideas, but someone from a different personal or professional background could bring new ideas to the table that you hadn’t thought of.
Remove your confirmation bias
A key part of being open-minded in the workplace is the ability to weigh up two points of view or ideas and explore both sides equally before making a decision. This works in the same way that Risk Auditors weigh up the potential risk of a business decision, they have to take an impartial stance to come to a balanced decision.
This will help you remove your confirmation bias, a process where our brains subconsciously find ways to prove information that we already believe to be true.
While you aren’t always going to be right, you’re also not always going to be wrong. Becoming an open-minded leader is about considering both perspectives and reaching the best decision for everyone.
The next time in a meeting you start a sentence with ‘I think that..’ take a step back and ask yourself ‘what are my automatic thoughts here’ and ‘why am I looking at it this way?’
Open-mindedness will improve you and your team’s performance
An open-minded mindset will help you function better in all areas of your career, maybe you’ll be more open to a new idea that increases your team’s productivity by 50%, or a new tool that saves you time on mundane administrative tasks.
The process of thinking differently about everything that you do will also bring you a new lease of life to your job. Marketing is fast paced and things are constantly changing–new technologies, Google updates, privacy changes.
In the current marketing climate, characteristics like the ability to think objectively and continuously learn, will highlight the leaders who thrive in this ever changing industry and those who fall victim to ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’.
Inspire others to do the same
By having an open-minded approach to marketing, it will rub off on your team members. They will be inspired to do the same and the results will be bigger and better than before. Not only will you have a new zest for marketing but so will your team. Inspired people do more inspiring work.
Make sure to shout about individual team member’s success to other leaders in the company. Be open to allowing junior members of staff to present to leaders, voice their ideas and realise their full potential. Great leaders create more great leaders and having an open-minded approach to leadership also means giving others the limelight now and again.
You can also Inspire your superior colleagues. By presenting your team’s new ideas and results from it, you might inspire other leaders to do the same, having a lasting impact on the whole organisation.
Embrace change and keep evolving with it
All the new marketing technology out there is great, but if you don’t have the open mindset to use it to your best advantage, you simply won’t.
Think about a time when you’ve researched and researched about a new tool you think will help your team, made a business case, finally got sign-off.. To end up barely using it or only not using it to its full potential. Let’s say your team followed your example and didn’t use it either. Not only are you left with a waste of budget and time sourcing it, your team productivity, collaboration and campaigns probably suffered, instead of improving.
It’s easy to fall back into these habits and being open-minded is a constant change in mindset that you need to keep working on. There are tools out there that can vastly improve your work life, but only if you are open to using them correctly.
Mediatool is built for marketing teams and leaders who want to push boundaries, constantly evolve with the industry and make a powerful impact. If you’d like to hear more about how it does that, read more here or book a platform tour.