Innovation and Marketing are coming around, why is Leadership dragging its feet?

Business as usual is in a revolutionary period. Innovation and marketing are leading the charge for change, isn’t it time for leadership to get in alignment and start working with the people they lead?

With: In the early 1900’s, business was based on our economic needs. Innovation, marketing and leadership all flattered each other, focusing on what was required for people to survive during the first part of the century.

Against: Swiftly, during the mid-1900’s competition was on the rise. Marketing efforts followed suit with print, radio and television ads. It didn’t matter if consumers needed the products anymore. Money was made in retail, and marketing pushed products in the customers face. This outbound technique was literally being thrown AT consumers whether they wanted it or not. Leadership styles complemented this approach by moving to an authoritative, top down model.

With/Against: The tug-of-war in the 1970’s was a cocktail mix of the presumptuous Baby Boomers and family oriented Gen Xers. Belief systems were confronted, throwing off the balance of innovation, marketing, and leadership. The majority of Boomers were still directing people on where to go and when to jump. But workers in the Gen X population did not fancy jumping and challenged the status quo. At the same time, the digital dot-com world took over and suddenly all three entities were in a real tizzy.

With: The economic crisis of 2007 slammed on the brakes for businesses, marketing and leadership. Soon, holistic health and organic nutrition were blankets of comfort on the rise, nurturing humanity. The births of new businesses were fragile and focused on the concerns of the consumers. Advertising followed the same approach with inbound techniques. Innovation and marketing worked with the consumer (once again) meeting their needs and working to heal the all-important-trust factor that the rough economy had challenged.

   Leadership, however, remained in a tug-of-war.

  • The purpose of business innovation is to create a customer.
  • The purpose of marketing is to attract customers to drive business forward.
  • The purpose of leadership is to impact both.

There is a need for an economic balance, and when innovation, marketing and leadership are not aligned, chaos exists.

Today, we are living in the trend of “With.” The style of authoritative leadership is an old school hold out from “Against.” (Somebody, please tell the leaders!) Although pieces of this trait still have its place, a business isn’t a dictatorship and leaders shouldn’t aspire to being a dictator. Leadership is a business with its own internal customers. Marketing AT them just doesn’t work.

Corporate America spends about $12 million a year on development programs for leaders, managers and executives. Some work, some don’t. Some courses are so irrelevant they leave leaders in the dark or asleep at their desk. Continuing education is vital in every industry. I believe most leaders desire a cohesive and profitable team, yet there seems to be a broken path between learning new leadership skills and executing them. This tug-of-war on how to lead is over-extending its welcome and throwing leaders, employees –and the production of business- off course.

Let’s make this easy and get back on track. The observation that there’s a need for an economic balance gives leaders permission to follow the innovation and marketing trends of the 21st century. When we lead with the inbound concept and have the mindset to mentor WITH the employee or team member instead of AT the individual, the ideology of building trust makes the biggest impact for internal customers and businesses at large.

Leaders seem to be creating their own war.

Long past are the days when directive leadership methods were effective and transactional leadership endured. (“If you do this for me, then I’ll give you that.”) Today, employees will work for you, but they’ll only meet you halfway; they need to trust you first. That’s the fact and the mindset of the Millennial generation, the largest generation on the rise. Innovation got the memo, marketing did too. When people trust you, they’ll cross the line. Leaders, make it easy on yourself and everyone involved, follow the example we’re seeing from innovation and marketing; work with them, rather than at them.

Photo: Flickr/thetaxhaven

Originally shared at Good Men Project.

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