Leading In Difficult Times

It’s been a hell of a few years and things don’t seem to be letting up. What can marketing leaders do to buoy their teams when the news is terrible? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • Sometimes front page headlines have a direct affect on the strategic choices you make about expressing your brand.
  • Other headlines—like recent ones about a looming recession—can force you to reassess your choices in a different way.
  • Once in a while a headline is big enough to do both of these things—demanding some kind of brand response AND contributing to a growing sense of financial uncertainty.
  • Moments like this—moments like now—also demand action on a third front. Your employees are probably upset and distracted. They need your support.
  • What should this support look like? Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien offer some helpful tips. The most basic is also the most important: don’t just clam up and act like everything’s fine.
  • And when you say something, let your emotions show: “We hide emotions in an attempt to look strong. But doing so actually weakens our capacity to lead.”
  • Duffy and Fosslien also recommend making space for different reactions. Don’t force anyone to talk about a difficult subject. But provide an outlet—like an optional facilitated session—for those who want to express what they’re feeling.
  • Speaking of creating space—whatever you do, don’t follow Meta’s lead and flatly forbid anyone from discussing the subject at work. 🤦🏻‍♂️
  • After talk comes action. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of big challenges. But your team is capable of making great things happen. Your job (as usual) is to help them come together and execute.
  • We like Allison Shapira’s advice here: “Research ways to help that are in line with your organization’s values. Provide credible sources for employees to get involved. Let them use a portion of their working hours for volunteer activities.”
  • In a way, we marketers are well-equipped for moments like this. We have strong, clear voices and we’re accustomed to using them.
  • And we are natural optimists. We tend to believe that better is possible.
  • As you work through difficult moments with your team, let these truths guide you. Don’t stay silent. Give them room to express their anger or sorrow. Empower them to act on these emotions. And, over time, guide them back to their natural state—guide them back to hope.
Issue #146
Jul 3, 2022

Further Reading