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!