It’s a new year. But we’re past January, which means we can put away the false promise and subsequent disappointment of unfilled resolutions. We can be honest about what is achievable and attainable in the year to come. I challenge you as a marketing and business leader to set aside lofty goals and ambitions in favor of making one, small change. Agree to show up differently.
What I like about this change is the leverage it can provide. Showing up differently doesn’t require you to drastically change your life, your work or your personal or professional habits. Yet, the outcome can have a significant impact on how you approach everything, from the day-to-day challenges of managing a brand or long term business planning. It’s not about the task, but rather how you show up for the task.
What does it mean to show up differently?
Well, it means something different to each of us. It starts with how you’ve previously approached things. And those things could be simple tasks like scheduling meetings or major undertakings like developing a strategy. Here are three steps you can take to identify an area where showing up differently could lead to new outcomes and then determine what change you might make to achieve those outcomes.
Step 1. Find the common thread that runs through your biggest obstacles.
Chances are the common thread is you. This doesn’t mean that those interactions aren’t truly challenging or those scenarios aren’t really difficult. But it’s unlikely you can unilaterally change them. What you can change is how you show up in those moments. For instance, if you find yourself overwhelmed when confronted with complexity, you may not be able to eliminate complicating factors that contribute to the difficulty of this situation. But, you can choose to show up differently in the face of a complex situation.
Step 2. Consider what it would mean for you to show up differently.
How you show up differently is truly unique to you. If you tend to deal with complexity without a process, consider stepping back from the complex situation at hand, outlining a process for dealing with the situation, then following that process, step-by-step. Yet, if you’re process-oriented, consider taking a different tact, like brainstorming solutions with a colleague before taking any action. I’m prone to multitasking (read distraction). For me, showing up differently means focusing on a single objective, perhaps doing fewer things but being fully present.
Step 3. Determine what changes you could make.
Before you attempt to take a completely different approach to solving a common, though difficult problem, recognize you may be taking on too much change. Changing our habits is hard enough, but it becomes even harder when we try to take on too much change, too quickly. Instead, consider a small change you could make and test that change to determine the impact it could have, not just on success according to prescribed metrics, but on success in terms of how you now feel about the work you’re doing.
Let’s play this out. You often face complex situations, like reorganizing your marketing team. In the past, you’ve approached this type of situation in a process oriented way. Perhaps you reviewed various org charts, considered the pros and cons of your current organizational structure, then went about choosing an organizational structure that might address the current challenges. But if you find yourself dreading this or similar situations, feeling inept in how to handle the situation or displeased with the outcome of the situation–make a change.
This post isn’t meant to suggest making radical change, like scrapping the entire concept of an organizational structure for your marketing team. It merely suggests showing up differently by making a modest, yet high impact change in how you approach the situation. Instead of starting your process by reviewing the org charts of others, consider meeting with a peer, asking how and why they designed their organization in a certain way or gaining their perspective of whether your current structure is high functioning or ineffective.
This isn’t meant to offer advise on how to build a marketing org structure, but rather to point out a minor change in how you show up when you confront a problem. By taking a different tact, you show up differently. By showing up differently, you not only change your view–in this case allowing your point of view to be informed by someone else’s perspective–but you also change how you’re viewed by others. You impact your relationship with this peer and possibly with the entire marketing team if a new approach yields a better outcome.
Most importantly, showing up differently has the potential to trigger a different internal response to an external situation over which you have less control. And the great news about making a small change is that it allows you test and learn. If changing your process doesn’t alter the outcome or impact how you feel about the scenario, it’s easy to dismiss that change in favor of yet another approach or try to apply that change to a different situation. Nevertheless, small incremental changes still have the ability to dramatically affect our success as leaders.