Takeaways from Inbound 2022: Prioritizing Leadership Development for Smaller Teams

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This is the second in our series of posts highlighting key takeaways from GK3 Capital team members who recently attended Inbound 2022, one of the industry’s top global conferences for agency owners and marketing professionals. We trust you will find these insights helpful regarding your own sales and marketing programs.

This recap is from Tess Grande, our Director of Account Management who oversees the account management team and manages GK3’s client services.

Inbound 2022 Highlights - Account Management

As the person responsible for managing GK3 Capital’s account management team, I am always eager to learn about how I can be a more effective leader which is why I found the Inbound 2022 presentation Connecting the Dots: Feedback for Leadership Development so beneficial. 

Presented by Katie Aldrich and Rachael Bosch of Fringe Professional Development, I discovered several actionable steps that I intend to put into practice with my team, and you might find these helpful as well. This is what I learned from Katie and Rachel:

Creating an Environment Built on Trust

Most leaders don't receive honest upward feedback from their direct reports. This happens for several reasons but the primary reason is that employees are afraid to be honest with someone who manages them, their work, and their growth and development. This inability to be candid limits the professional growth of leaders. Leaders must develop the skills to manage direct and indirect reports more effectively by:

  • Setting expectations
  • Practicing bias management
  • Providing psychological safety to build trust among our staff

Setting expectations should be a primary function of what we do as leaders. We need to set expectations early and often but also be mindful. We should constantly be asking ourselves. "Are these expectations attainable?" We can't provide fair feedback for professional development or hold our team accountable if we don't set clear and attainable expectations. 

Practicing bias management means identifying our own judgments and separating those from our review of our peers. We don’t need to like each other to practice accurate forms of feedback; we just need to recognize our own biases and work diligently to separate them every time we provide a review of others. 

Building trust means providing the psychological safety for our team to be honest without fear of retaliation. But we should recognize, even if we create this type of environment, rarely will a team be as honest as they need to be with their leader. One way to help receive honest communication is by offering anonymous upward feedback. A practice I found fascinating was The Johari Window which is a concept developed in 1955 to help us better understand ourselves and our relationships with others. In essence, this four-quadrant tool allows us to analyze different aspects of what is known and what is not: 

  • Open –  This section relates to all that is known about that individual. It is what is known by the individual themselves and what is known about them by the group. The information that is open can relate to their behavior, feelings, knowledge, experience or skills, etc.
  • Blind Spot – This area relates to what is known about the individual by the group, but that individual does not know about themself.
  • Hidden – This relates to what the individual knows about themself but does not reveal to the group. This could be related to their own feelings, fears, sensitivities, agenda or manipulations.
  • Unknown – This section deals with all the information, feelings, and experiences such as a natural ability the individual does not know they possess, etc. These are neither known to the individual or known to the group.

Leading a Small Team to Marketing Success with Agile

Another Inbound 2022 session I enjoyed was How to Lead a Small Team to Marketing Success with Agile presented by Dorien Morin-van Dam, Certified Agile Marketer. Key takeaways from this session:

As marketers, we often get stuck in striving for perfection which in effect halts our ability to market effectively and efficiently.  "Agile means responding to change instead of following a plan" which is particularly important for a small agency. While planning is an important part of the process to ensure alignment on client priorities and goals, what's even more important, in my opinion, is the ability to be flexible and shift directions when needed. Clients' business needs change, sometimes rapidly and as marketers, we need to be able to adapt and modify. 

"The first thing you need to 'do' agile is 'be' agile. Agility starts with an agile mindset." What does this mean? As leaders, we need to build that environment for the team, the foundation of which is trust. We need to allow our team to work autonomously to deliver value early, rather than waiting for perfection. This allows us to learn together and grow together. The agile mindset requires: 

  • Relentless improvements
  • Continuous curiosity
  • Team collaboration
  • Willingness to fail

How do we address the value of agile marketing with clients? It needs to be an ongoing conversation about building a partnership where everyone participates. What does this all mean for marketing teams? What are the takeaways to bring into the organization? 

  • Teamwork and communication over processes and tools
  • Published content over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over scope of work
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This is the second blog in a 3-part series, check back next week for part three. You can read part one here.

Interested in learning more about the power of Inbound? Watch our video series and discover how Inbound is the foundation for transforming your distribution process.

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