In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss leadership: what is it, what models exist for it, and how should we think about it? We discuss the different types of power and what balance we should be seeking while in leadership roles.
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This is In-Ear Insights the Trust Insights podcast.
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Join now and save $100 off registration when you go to Trust insights.ai slash AI Academy and use registration code pen 100 today that’s Trust insights.ai slash AI Academy and use registration code pen 100 today, in this week’s in ear insights Katie is back after a week off last week we had John Wall on the show.
Katie, what happened and what what does your brain come up with on vacation that is worth sharing.
So what happened what happened was I took 10 days off and spent a lot of time in the woods and a lot of time sitting on my deck and it was fantastic.
And one of the reasons why it’s fantastic is because it really sort of cleared all of the clutter out I was able to focus in on this, you know, idea that I had for content where you know, I really want to dig into all the different apps aspects of leadership.
Now leadership is not a new topic.
It’s not something that hasn’t been covered.
It’s been covered a lot.
But it’s uniquely my point of view.
And so I want to take a crack at it.
You know, and this was inspired by what’s going on in the world politically, but I don’t want it to be a political post, because leadership is something that, you know, we all deal with on a regular basis.
Some of us are unwilling leaders, some of us, you know, wanted to be leaders from, you know, day one.
And so I really want to start to dig into what does all of that look like, you know, what are the defining characteristics versus more of the, you know, less defining things? What are the soft skills, the hard skills, you know, how can you learn to be a leader? What are the lessons from leadership, so it just sort of like really thinking about it, because I think what ends up happening is, you know, there’s a lot of the term leader gets thrown around a lot.
It’s misused, it’s overused.
You know, it’s people wanting the title.
And your title does not necessarily mean that you yourself are a leader.
And so I think that there’s a lot of misunderstanding and things that I want to clear up about it as best I can.
And so, you know, I want to start to pick apart things like, you know, me versus we or, you know, the because I said, so because I’m the leader.
So you have to do what I say, versus really getting that team put team input, you know, where diversity plays a factor, you know, do you need to know everything? How can you always have the answer, you know, where you’re, where you can play to your strengths, the insecurities like all of those different things.
And so, you know, I’m going to spend some time really outlining it.
But Chris, you and I talk about leadership a lot.
What are your, you know, immediate reactions to the topic of leadership, or do you have any strong opinions without Political? Yes, I do it.
There’s two different branches in my head.
There’s sort of the academic side, which is like all the definitions and models and frameworks and stuff that that I personally love.
And then there’s the, the emotional side.
And that one is the same I use the same definition of leadership is as the Supreme Court did for pornography.
can’t define it, but you know, when you see it, right.
I think the same is true of leadership.
You know, when you see it, from an emotional perspective, you know, somebody does something or takes a role.
You feel good about what it is that they’re doing, even if it’s not necessarily the exact way you would do it.
It’s okay, that person is doing it.
But there’s, there’s a general hesitation I think we have as humans where we don’t necessarily want to be.
Not all of us want to be out in front all the time, because that’s who gets shot at first.
So it takes type of motivation to get somebody to step up and take on that role.
And I think one of the things that is worth unpacking is what is the motivation to do that, you know, again, not to get overly political, but different people have different reasons for wanting to be a leader, sometimes it’s ego, sometimes it is, you know, absolute corruption, and they just want to self serve, you know, deal themselves the best hand possible.
Sometimes it’s people are so in pain, and they don’t see anyone else stepping up.
They’re like, well, somebody’s got to fix this problem.
I guess I will, because nobody else is doing it.
That sort of like that unwilling leader.
And then there are those, you know, I think management folks like called the servant leaders, the folks who like yeah, I want to help everybody, advance forward, I want to I want to make things better for me, but I want to make them better for me by making them better for everybody else, sort of the idea of enlightened self interest like yeah, I know the classic example of it.
If I don’t like homelessness, if I help the city build a homeless shelter, then I don’t have to deal with homelessness anymore on the street, because but I’ve done so in a way that makes the world a better place.
And that’s the sort of the model of leadership that I’ve been following for a few decades, because it’s the way that the the martial arts tradition I practice advocates for leadership is figure out how to align your goals with helping other people win, and then other people naturally want you to win.
Now, do you feel like and this might be a loaded question, but do you feel like if someone is put in a team lead position that they are, then by default, the leader and you have to do what they say? So it depends.
There’s within an organization the folks over at manager tools have a really good delineation there’s, there’s two types of power.
There’s there’s relationship power, and there’s role power, and what you’re describing is role power, you’re put in this position you have and you have to use the power of the role.
To get things done Do as I say kind of things, which we know from basic interpersonal theory is not necessarily the grips motivated the the better motivators that relationship power, hey, I’ve built a relationship with you so much so that you want to do what I’ve asked you to do, or you or you may even say, Hey, here’s an even better way of doing it.
If I have a good, good team lead, I should say, Okay, yeah, you know, that is the better way, like, going back to our own personal history.
As soon as you came on board, I’m on my team at the old shop.
You’re like, Wow, you really suck at hiring people.
I want to think that’s not verbatim, but I’m pretty sure it is.
And I said, Well, guess what, now you’re in charge of hiring because you’re better at it than I am.
And so part of building of building a good leader is helping them understand there is a balance between relationship and role power.
You can have relationship power without willpower, but it’s better to have both if you can I agree with that, um, you know, one of the things that I’ve always struggled with, and this is my own, you know, personal ego that I have to check is people telling me, no, you can’t go talk to that person, you are at a lower level, for example.
So, you know, in almost every role that I’ve had, someone has tried to, you know, play that card of the hierarchy.
And I do respect the hierarchy.
But I do find that there are times when the hierarchy gets in the way of problems getting solved and productivity.
And so, you know, a couple of jobs ago, you know, I was a product manager and in charge of this, you know, $3 million product and the sales, the VP of Sales would always say, No, you can’t talk to the client until we find someone who is at the same level is you and I always took such issue with that for multiple reasons.
And that’s sort of a bigger thing to unpack, but in my head I was like, but I’m the one who knows the most about what the product does.
Why am I not allowed to talk to the client just because I don’t have the same title as us.
So if I don’t have a VP in front of my title, I’m not even allowed to step foot in the room.
And I just always thought that that was insane.
Um, because I’ve always been a firm believer of you put the right people in the right, you know, scenarios, and everybody will be successful.
You know, and so then when I got to agency life, I found very quickly that it wasn’t very different.
And I, you know, had someone on my team who was maybe, you know, at a junior entry level, they had a question, I was like, Oh, well go ask the VP of the different team, you know, whatever your question is.
And that VP immediately called me into their office and said, How dare you send a junior person to ask me a question? I don’t talk to junior people.
And I looked at him I was like, Are you insane? Did you did you? Or did you not have the answer to her question within five seconds, like, Get over yourself? This is insane.
And so I find that a lot of times, you know, Chris, to your point about willpower, it’s very misunderstood as to how that should work.
And so a lot of people go into it thinking Well, I know have ultimate power.
Therefore what I say goes, and if I don’t want to be bothered by Junior people, asked me questions, I can then put five other people in the way to make sure that I’m not bothered, because I’m now in a position of power.
And I just think that that whole notion is bullshit.
A lot of it has to do to also with culture, and this extends even to, you know, national or country level culture.
One of the things that was sort of the biggest challenges for for the Japanese martial arts when they made the migration to Western countries, is a change in the understanding of how out how we Work as as, as people.
In Japan, for example, your teacher may give you a promotion early, and you have a sense of honor and a sense of shame.
Like, you know, you have not lived up to that rank, like, they’ll give you your first degree black belt.
And so, culturally, you work your butt off, you know, you double the amount of time you spent training and stuff like that until you’ve earned your way into the into that ranking.
And your teacher says, yep, that was I knew that was what it would take to motivate you that sense of shame that you were being given an audit you didn’t deserve.
When they started doing that with Americans in particular, it went completely haywire because that’s not how we work.
Our culture is one of you.
You work your way up the ladder and you get the thing after you’ve done the time to get the thing as opposed to getting the honor.
And then you feel like you have to work you have to earn your way into it.
And so in organizations, you know, there’s a it’s challenging because you will have people who are given the role But for one reason or another, they’re not ready for the role.
And the question is, will that person grow into that or will as you’ve experienced it kind of go the other way? I remember I was talking to this one person who worked at HubSpot, and they were talking at one point, they’re saying they want to approach one of their senior executives.
And the senior executive sent an email to their boss saying this person has not earned the right to talk to me, like, well full of ourselves, aren’t we, that person who no longer works at HubSpot, but but wow, you know, that’s a case where role power is clearly at the forefront.
This person’s mind relationship power is not present at all, like they have no, this person had no understanding of how to build relationships clearly.
Well, and I think that that’s a really great example because power does not equal leadership.
And I think that, you know, that’s, you know, one of the many things that I do want to spend some time on talking is that there’s this misunderstanding that if you were put in a position of quote unquote power, and I think power is also One of those words that, you know, people latch on to, like, I want power, I need this power need that power in order to get things done.
That doesn’t necessarily translate.
Because if you were put in that role power position, but you’re not a leader or you’re not, you know, someone that people respect doesn’t matter, just not going to get done.
Because nobody wants to do whatever it is that you say.
And, you know, we see a lot of examples of that, you know, and so having a title almost kind of means nothing.
If you the person can’t do the work and you don’t understand the team, and you can’t, you’re not someone who is respected.
And I think that there’s a lot of different elements and so I think it’s a very interesting topic.
Um, the title thing is really important because titles are heuristics, right there ways for us to make snap judgments if the initials and funnier name or CEO I have certain expectations and then if you don’t live up to those expectations, it’s actually in some ways the title can set you back Because you’re clearly this person here is not a CFO, they don’t behave like a CFO, you know, they behave like a junior analyst at best how they got that title.
And so one of the reasons why a lot of startups struggle like you know, some will say I’m a chief data scientist.
Yeah, but you’re 22 and you did not go to college at 14 you know, you don’t have you weren’t Doogie Howser.
You didn’t get a PhD at 18.
How do you? How do you match up that? That disparity between the title that you’ve claimed for yourself, and what other people have done in that role that defines the expectations of you? think to your point, that’s where leadership can go really, really haywire? Like, for just a fun aside, like why did we make you the CEO of the company? You know, we took a long look at the role of the CEO and what is expected of a CEO.
And we, I think, from my opinion, we really tried to make sure that we were matching strengths You know, when we actually took a look at, you know, the things that typically a CEO has to do in terms of setting the strategy, you know, managing the process, overseeing the people, the overall health of the organization, those are things that I am naturally stronger at, or that I have worked to be stronger.
And, you know, you are so great at, you know, the innovations and, you know, the data detective newness and working with clients and really understanding what it is that, you know, the data is trying to do in the new things and AI and machine learning that, you know, even though you have more years on paperwork experience, I have more experience in the role of CEO than you did.
And so that was one of the reasons why we decided that and I’ve always wanted to be a CEO.
But to that point, you know, I then made the conscious decision to take on that role with the expectations.
You know, was I ready to be be a CEO? Is anybody ever really ready? You have to continue to grow into it, as you were saying.
And I think that it does come with a certain, you know, whatever letters are behind your name, your title, there are expectations.
And I think that just calling yourself something doesn’t automatically make you the thing.
And I think that I’m confident that you and I would have both decided that if neither of us were ready to be a CEO, we would have looked for someone else who was Yeah, I think it’s the idea of running the organization and building the organization.
Those things that Yeah, are not at all my strengths.
You know, finding the best people to competent team.
Also hiring my eyes, check it, so It’s an important part of leadership is to understand what are the expectations in any given role? If someone makes you a manager or a director in a company, what are the expectations that come with that? And one of the things that I think almost every organization totally fails at is they don’t define the soft skills expectations for any given role.
There’s the obvious stuff like, Hey, you need to have this number of leads, or you need to have this amount of revenue or your productivity numbers have to be X, Y, or Z.
But at no point does somebody say, hey, you have to treat your employees with kindness, where you have to, you know, reduce the number of complaints against you by 50% this year.
And without that, without that quantification and understanding of the soft skills, I think you do set a lot of people up to fail in in manager positions and certainly in leadership positions.
If, if you said hey, one of the expectations of the CEO is that you will build relationships with others.
Other people in the company? Oh, at every level.
If that wasn’t made clear, then yeah, you’ll have situations where you can have people saying, Oh, yeah, you’re not qualified to talk to me.
And that creates organizational chaos.
You know, and so Chris, the first question you asked me was, you know, what are the things that were rolling around in my brain over vacation, and it all started with me taking a look inward at myself and my role.
And, you know, we are almost three years into having Trust Insights.
And so, you know, I’m constantly trying to make sure that I am fulfilling the expectations but also that I am doing what I need to do as a leader, you know, especially when I’m getting ready to change processes and change roles.
And, you know, in some ways, flip things in the company upside down.
Well, why should you guys listen to me, you and john.
Both have way more experience and more Getting that I do.
So why does my perspective count at all? And so really making sure that I have enough data to back up the reasons why I want to make certain changes, and the plans and the measurements and all of those things.
And that’s, honestly, that’s really where the topic for me started to sort of come together as this thing that’s bigger than just what I’m working on.
Because it was really challenging me to think like, why should they listen to me at all? Why do they see me as a leader? What are the things that I bring to the table that make people who have more experience than me feel comfortable putting me in a leadership position? And so it’s where it’s where it started? That’s true, because you’re literally the youngest person in the company.
So to wrap up, understanding what kind of leader you are, or the kind of way you’ve been asked to be, is important knowing the different types and understanding the different types and Knowing how good you are at managing the balance between role power and relationship power are essential for being a good leader, being good manager or frankly just being good employee because you can have relationship out without role power, and still get things done.
If you got questions or comments or things that you want to follow up with about this episode, dropping by our free slack group over at Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers over 1300 other marketers and analysts just like you with questions every day of every topic imaginable related to analytics, marketing and leadership.
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