If you talk to people about what their work is lacking, you will probably hear a common frustration: "We need leaders who can put people first, not just talk about it." The complaint is usually followed by an observation about how they are actually treated like disposable diapers. This needs to change–especially in today's digital world where people have access to other people (LinkedIn) more than ever before, bringing tons of opportunities to them.
Leaders that treat their teams like expendable assets without working better together, and not giving people a voice and sense that they have a stake in the organization, will end up hurting their companies in the long run.
In this Digital Marketing era, we focus heavily on people–our customers. But in order to retain those customers, and extend their lifetime value, the other people–the people that comprise our teams matter more to our successes, or failure, than in the pre-digital era.
Leaders today need to think differently, and play a different role in developing their teamwork and principles.
Leaders need to be able to act like engineers to design, build and maintain teamwork. Building extraordinary teams starts with engineering–engineering of team culture. Start thinking like an engineer, until you become one. Instead of telling people how to do their jobs, today's leaders must listen and offer context that leads to decisions from team members.
We all know that innovation is critical to an organization's success. But, you can't force teams to be creative if they don't feel trusted. So a leader's role is more about trusting the team–enough to feel nervous. This is especially important in the Digital Marketing world. If you give your team more trust, freedom, and authority than you're comfortable with, they will amaze you.
The principles of teamwork are actually very simple. And leaders should think of the things that matter to the team, and focus on those. The result will be a company that features the best products and services, with employees who are enthusiastic about their work, a growing number of loyal and new customers, and strong revenues and increased margins. The sooner leaders start to actually put people first, the more they will gain.