We reward boldness in marketing. We laud the best marketers for taking risks. But too often, this boldness turns into arrogance. Arrogance convinces us that we know best. We convince ourselves that everything would be ok if people would just listen to our brilliance.
If we're honest, we've all thought this way. But, there's a problem. This mentality is the enemy of growth. It's also the enemy of building a strong team. It turns out we could all use a dose of humility. That’s why I so appreciated the meetings I was in this week.
I spent Tuesday and Thursday working with a client on their brand and organizational content strategy. We’re early in the project. During this meeting we shared findings from interviews with both the internal communications team and external audiences. We also presented findings from a process audit.
As with most audits, we found a lot of opportunities for improvement. The conversations were frank. A lot of the time we had difficult feedback to share. Because people were involved, there were many emotions.
Leaders show their true colors in moments like this. It’s easy to dig your heels in when someone's discussing the shortcomings of your hard work in detail. The director of communications we’re working with did the opposite. She embraced the feedback, listened, and leaned in.
Her response wasn’t just refreshing. It was essential. If she doesn't lean in, our project will fail, and her program will likely struggle to grow.
Because of her humility she was able to admit where her team could improve without negating their accomplishments, listen and internalize honest feedback from her team, and navigate difficult relationships with other stakeholders because she's committed to positive outcomes instead of more power. I was inspired. I’ll try to emulate her next time I’m on the receiving end of some constructive criticism. You should too.