This Is Why Executives Should Be Students With Their Teams

by | Aug 29, 2017

Ah, the joy of summer sounds: the hum of an AC, giggles and splashes from the neighborhood pool, the roar of lawn mowers. If they haven’t already, these sounds will soon be swapped out for school bells and bus traffic. School is back in, and it’s not an easy adjustment for kids. Making new friends, meeting new expectations, and learning new ways to combat problems are difficult skills to learn.

We’ve all been there. And as sea­soned pro­fes­sion­als, the dif­fi­cul­ty doesn’t go away just because we’re years removed from school.

Exec­u­tives are smart and expe­ri­enced. But what if we turn the role of the exec­u­tive around and place them in the shiny new shoes of a stu­dent eager to learn, instead of the well-trod­den shoes of a vet­er­an teacher? What if our known and able lead­ers took a step back and allowed their sup­port­ing teams or part­ners to take the lead? 

By flip­ping the script, there’s poten­tial for great insights and phe­nom­e­nal strate­gic think­ing that would impact the lead­ing brands of the world. The cur­rent “stu­dents” in sup­port­ive roles have exper­tise and a pulse on hot trends that can dri­ve genius strategy. 

I’ve wit­nessed this first hand and am not afraid to say that my “stu­dents” have taught me a thing or two. Con­sid­er these exam­ples at Search Discovery: 

  • I had an entry lev­el team mem­ber with a pas­sion for con­tent mar­ket­ing. They had ideas for how to cre­ate bet­ter site traf­fic that pro­mot­ed the brand while negat­ing neg­a­tive feed­back. Some might be hes­i­tant giv­en their posi­tion lev­el, but the ideas were sol­id and I went with it. The result? An opti­mized site expe­ri­ence for our client that was more con­ducive to retention.
  • After meet­ing the newest mem­ber to my Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing team, I learned that they had a wealth of expe­ri­ence with a third par­ty dis­play ven­dor at their last intern­ship. They brought to the table great ideas for how to get even more accu­rate mobile geo-fenc­ing. This strat­e­gy meant low­er CPM and a con­sid­er­ably more effec­tive and prof­itable approach to aware­ness dol­lars in market.
  • Want­i­ng to dri­ve more site rev­enue for a client, an IT/Dev Man­ag­er that I pre­vi­ous­ly worked with shared some ideas on how to imple­ment a more robust tag man­age­ment solu­tion. Upgrad­ing from an anti­quat­ed lega­cy sys­tem result­ed in faster load times and a more stream­lined pix­el upload process.

There’s a wealth of knowl­edge and ideas that exist with­in the employ­ees of every com­pa­ny. As lead­ers, we can and should be pro­vid­ing a cul­ture that allows all employ­ees a plat­form to feel com­fort­able shar­ing their ideas—even with exec­u­tives. Not every per­son can lead a com­pa­ny, and not all ideas will get a shot at being incu­bat­ed, refined, and acti­vat­ed. But when exec­u­tives are stu­dents, they cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that fos­ters unex­pect­ed pos­i­tive results. With that kind of poten­tial, who wouldn’t want to be a stu­dent again? 

Class dis­missed!