How your leadership style can boost your team’s morale

Whether you’ve just been promoted or have been managing a team for years, leaders should strive for vulnerability, authenticity and empathy. Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24 shares his thoughts.  

joe hyland cmo of ON24

San-Francisco based company, ON24 produces data webinars and online content to accommodate clients with business decisions and human connection. Its CMO, Joe Hyland, discusses the leadership strategies he uses to inspire future and current employees. 

How do you cultivate leadership within your team?

I try to be transparent about my own leadership approach and communicate with my team members about the types of projects they’d like to try. I also ask them which opportunities might scare them -- I’m a believer that employees need to take on a bit more than they think they’re capable of in order to grow. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a team member excel in an area they thought was beyond their capabilities. 

We’re a small company that moves quickly. Facilitating leadership and mentorship is a critical component of our team and company, but it’s baked in as part of our day-to-day, rather than having a formal programme.

What’s the key difference between leaders and managers?

Not all managers are leaders. I believe a leader is someone who inspires their employees and empowers them to reach their potential. Anyone can oversee work and ensure one-off tasks get done. A leader creates a vision and inspires others to help accomplished it. 

Our industry is changing fast – what does that mean for the competencies and attributes we’ll need of future leaders?

I think all marketers need to understand how quickly our industry is evolving. The next generation of marketing leaders will be the people who can put away their ego and forget how they’ve always done things. They’ll be the ones who can crowdsource ideas from their teams, spot emerging trends and have the confidence to invest in new areas of growth and opportunity.

I’m also looking for authenticity, courage, and a willingness to be vulnerable. A leader needs to be bold and innovative, but they also need to be relatable and able to create a connection with their colleagues. Possessing those qualities are often rarer than you’d expect.

Is leadership for everyone and should everyone aspire it? 

No, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of the smartest people I’ve worked with have been individual contributors. I think a lot of leadership skills are derived from one’s personality. A lot of people’s personality isn’t aligned with leadership -- but they have other traits that make them invaluable.

What non-marketing practices can contribute towards leadership success? 

I think it’s important to use opportunities in your personal and professional life to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Throughout all kinds of interactions, I ask myself: What is this person feeling right now? Why are they feeling that? What do I want them to take from this? Thinking critically about  those questions serves marketers and leaders well -- helping us become more perceptive, personable, and empathetic.

To what extent do you believe people should plan their career? 

I don’t think you can or should plan out your career. Early on, I think people should try a range of opportunities -- whether it be at multiple companies or just across different teams. Find what you gravitate toward, but also what people think you are good at doing. Build good, authentic relationships with colleagues, not just because it’s good business, but because they’ll make work more fulfilling as well.

What’s the best advice you were given to prepare you for leadership?

To be transparent. If an employee feels you are being honest with them, even if you or the company are making mistakes, you’ll still have their support. They understand no one is perfect. But if you pretend to be, that causes friction and disconnect.

How can marketers prepare for the changes we’ll inevitably see in the future? 

I think marketers in B2B need to have a broader sense of their business and be able to show true ROI to their CEO, executives, and board members. Too many marketers still have the mindset that the department exists in order to make things look pretty. We have to all look in the mirror and figure out our goals as a company, and how everyone in our team is working towards them.

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