Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Perhaps you had someone who stood behind you, in case you fell—someone who gave you the confidence to try again until you could ride on your own.
To succeed, people need the confidence to take risks. But most people have an inherent fear of failure, and they need leaders to help them believe in themselves.
As a marketing leader, don't fall into the trap of overestimating your team members' confidence. Instead, assume there's lots of space to build more confidence in your team.
As a leader, building the confidence of your marketing tribe is among the most rewarding things you can do—both for yourself and for your company. Based on our experience over many years working with senior marketing teams, we'd like to suggest five confidence-building techniques you might apply.
1. Set a new rule: 'Ask for forgiveness, not permission'
You need your team to act and take risks without always asking you for permission first. Sometimes they'll fail in a task or do things you don't like; you need to accept that.
"Forgiveness, not permission" is a powerful rule, and it's essential for creativity and innovation. The alternative is a team that lacks initiative, a team that's only half engaged, and a team in which the best team members soon start looking for another job.
How can you put the "forgiveness, not permission" rule into practice? Tell your team you expect them to push ahead with projects and initiatives without always checking with you first although you'll always be there for advice if they need it. Make clear that although you love updates, you're OK if people make their own decisions and take measured risks to drive the work forward.
Thomas Barta is a former McKinsey partner and a senior marketer who speaks, writes, and consults on marketing leadership. He's a co-author of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value (McGraw-Hill; September 2016).
LinkedIn: Thomas Barta
Patrick Barwise is emeritus professor of management and marketing at London Business School and a prize-winning author, speaker, and consultant. He's a co-author of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value (McGraw-Hill; September 2016).