In my 11 years experience working in direct and indirect capacities with some well known national brands, I’ve seen leaders (directors, VP’s, managers, etc.) come and go. And in these foul economic times as companies start their South Beach diet to cut fat throughout the organization, the emphasis on your worth and your value to the company is essential in these times.
My hat rack shows my experience over the years as web marketing manager, entrepreneur, board director and director of Internet marketing. And working along side other management and leaders in the organizational structure, I’ve come to witness and learn first hand, common attributes, and tools that make some leaders great, and others leaders dissolve.
I’ve found great leadership does not have to be complex, whether it be a director of web marketing, media, information technology, coach and yes, even fatherhood.
All leaders in any level and capacity whom I’ve found ‘great’, are supported by the people they lead, and who all demonstrate common personal characteristics, which is one of two ingredients that lay the foundation of a great leader. (the other ingredient…..competence…more in another post).
Its a given great leadership typically comes over time, and some attributes of great leadership can be taught, and others born with. Though with a even mixture of experience, self-development and character, make good leaders great. Unfortunately this is not always the case.
We’ve all seen good leaders pulled up through the ranks quickly in a company, whether qualified or not. And fallen just as fast, as they did not adapt to the change in leadership style. For example, project managers who demonstrate excellent operational skills who define policies and procedures, organize the working wheels of the process and people, and the management, measurement and optimization of their operations. Pulled up to higher calling in the company, their leadership requirements change, now focused on the leadership of the company’s organizational purpose, operations and people. But many of these individuals do not adapt to the change, and continue leading wearing the operational hat and same leadership style, thus neglecting the other integral areas of their new responsibility. Those who are good leaders in their current calling, are set up to fail if they don’t adapt their style. Not by fault by themselves, but fault by the company of not laying the ground of expectations in the new role.
Back to the point of focus here – the character of great leadership. The above touches both the competence and character of a leader, but I want to focus on one area for simplicity sake of this article.
So first, let’s create our persona of a leader – a director of Internet marketing. A director of internet marketing assumes great responsibility. These seasoned individual takes on the role directing organizational vision and purpose, and its alignment to the Internet marketing channels. They manage the expertise in the Internet marketing operations to ensure the vision becomes a reality, and greasing the operational cobs that ensure each departmental resource works together in harmony to achieve the visions outcome.
An Internet marketing director would lead the management groups who oversee their respective web channels as Search, Email, Affiliate, Online Advertising, Web Analytics and perhaps others such as media/PR or Social Network / Media marketing depending on the organization. A director of Internet marketing doesn’t micro-manage in the daily, tactical operations of these departments (leave that to the managers), but define, promote and sell the vision and purpose to these managers and teams, and ensure they all align with the organizations resources for a successful execution and maximum results.
So there’s our Internet marketing leader in a director role. Now, what makes one leader better than the other? The difference between a mediocre leader and a great leader in this role, should bring two core fundamentals in their leadership style – character and competence.
Character and competence are two fundamentals that seem as obvious as Bush’s quality of leadership, but many leaders either lack, or carry a large imbalance, of one or the other core ingredients.
Character of Leadership
I’ve found the anatomy of character that makes a good leader Great is two-fold; the inner drive or the soul of the individual, and their personal qualities.
The leaders soul and inner drive can be summed up in three points, each one stemming like like a vein into the unique attributes of the individuals inner drives.
- a great leader has a well defined, worldview philosophy of leadership
- a great leader has a clear morale compass
- a great leader has a strong sense of self awareness
The reality is organizations greatest assets are not the people, but the leaders driving the organization. Not to say the managers and worker bees are not of value, they are extremely valuable. But remember, a great leader will hire the right people who fit the role and vision of the organization. The point I’m making is that if an organization invests in the right person who can be characterized by the latter attributes, to lead the organization (devision, channel, department, etc.) will in turn take care of all other assets in the business, including the people.
If the individual taking on the role of as a director of Internet marketing can’t grasp a perspective outside the organizations box, the business, the market, and understand the the worldview of the events and demands happening outside the organization and how it can impact the business, will soon find themselves sideswiped and sinking.
Those with a good worldview of what’s a happening in the industry around the business, will be planning, prepping and ready to capitalize on this for the organization and adjust the business model, or marketing plan, or campaign where needed….including finding and obtaining the right people for the job to help make it happen.
So again, the most important asset in a company are the leaders, as they will take care of everything else.
Second attribute of a great leader is one who has a clear morale compass. We’re seeing this in today’s markets. Flick on BNN and look at the leaders on Wall Street and how their morale compasses lead the company to bankruptcy. Bernie Madoff ring a bell? These individuals may have led a straight path to the top, made a lot of cash, but soon toppled as their ethics and morality caught up with their decisions. They may have landed their jobs with a clear morale compass, but somewhere along the lines lost sight of it.
Thirdly, a great leader will have a strong inner drive, which its anatomy can be a paradigm. Everyone is driven by different values and views, or even gut feelings, all which make up their morale compass. But where a leaders decisions come from is typically brought on by their source of authority as a leader, their view of humanity and human nature, and their personal sense of destiny.
Yours, mine, Barrack Obama, Wayne Gretzky, etc, values and attitude shape our decisions, which drives our behaviors and skills as a leader. The impact of all this is the result of their moral compass and worldview. But, what really defines a great leaders values and attitude, is the strength of their self awareness.
So our character of our director of Internet marketing profile should also demonstrate a strong sense of self awareness. At times throughout my experience I’ve seen this possibly as the defining footprint that wins over the people who are labeled a great leader.
A leader with a strong sense of self awareness will understand their limitations, and hire people who compensate for their weaknesses. For example, a director of Internet marketing may have been brought up through the ranks for their competent expertise in search marketing and email marketing but lack the expertise in affiliate marketing and social media marketing. Identifying this limitation and hiring to plug this gap is just one example of the self awareness attribute of a great leader. Unfortunately other leaders will simply spread the responsibility of the needed expertise across various, teams or unqualified individuals who do what their told to do, not doing what the do best.
I recall a situation one time where the marketing department of +100 received a new director of marketing. In his first speech, he said with confidence and conviction, that he knows nothing about Internet marketing, but everyting on leading a team. He identified and communicated his limitations, and empowered the experts in their area to lead him in this area. Still today he’s name is remembered among the marketing peers who were there that day.
The self awareness of a leader breeds authenticity and integrity. No sugar coating or cover up. People will see right through it. It covers the whole gamut from worldview of a leader, to the values, talents and personality of the leader. Teams will embrace this of their leader if they’re honest with their convictions and leadership style. This is the character that makes a good leader great. Resonate the above points as you evolve your leadership style to become a great leader.
The last necessity of a great leaders character defines the “personal qualities” the individual portrays as a leader. While a variety of personal qualities can be listed, the below are the top 5 most prominent qualities that build the strongest pillar on the foundation I spoke of earlier. These personal qualities are integrity, focus, courage, care and humility.
Assuming the director of Internet marketing role, the success of your leadership can be defined by these attributes of character. While all points mentioned I’ve found in my experience portray a great leader, is only half of the sum. Competence of the leader, the second mass to balance the definition of a great leader. I’ll cover competence in another posting. But for now, take my experience for what its worth of what great leaders mean to me. I’ve seen some great, good and bad leaders over the decade, and those who I fit into my basket of great leaders, are still here today, and hold a high level of respect among their peers, and industry.
So here’s your Cole notes on the character of a great leader….
An even weight of…
The water and earth to grow into a great leader is consumed by…
- The inner drive (Soul) of the leader
- Their personal qualities
The leaders inner drives makes up the ingredients of..
- a well-defined philosophy of leadership
- a clear morale compass
- strong sense of personal, self-awareness
And the personal qualities of a great leader is made of…
- Focus (the ability to think, and to act)
- Courage (to pursue the focus)
- Care (making sacrifices for others, and the connection/relationship you have with others)
- Humility (your thirst for personal growth, self-discipline)
Get these character attributes down and continually give inner thought on how you fit with each one. In an upcoming post I’ll get into the second anatomy of a great leader…a leaders competence. Competence of the leader focuses on the specific makeup of a Director of Internet marketing, and how this role should compliment the character and its application in the field of Internet marketing.