For Part 2 in our “Kill the Employee” series we sat down with Andrea Lechner-Becker, VP of Marketing Services at LeadMD. Below are her wide-ranging thoughts on owning leadership positions, mindsets for success, and a secret recipe for happiness in all things. Click here to read Part 1 by Justin Gray.
Stepping into a leadership role for the first time is nerve-wracking, to say the least. It can give even the most motivated and competent people a heavy case of the jitters. Leadership makes you realize that much of what happens “in” a role is a very small piece of what happens “around” the role. I often say that the least and at the same time most rewarding roles are in management. Your failures will be celebrated sometimes more than your wins.
This stems from the fact that it’s relatively easy for you to see success when you are responsible only for yourself. But when you are leading other people, all with diverse personalities, problems and skill sets – it can seem overwhelming, and it’s easy to question yourself. I’ve been there. I know those feelings. Trust me, it’s not as bad as you think. But like many things in life, your ultimate success or failure will all depend on your attitude.
If you don’t know, trust and empower yourself, no one else will.
The same holds true with the problems and setbacks you’re destined to encounter as a leader. You’ll save a lot of pain and suffering if you internalize this statement: If you don’t figure it, out no one will.
Think about it like this: In any leadership position, you’re performing live with no safety net. You can’t blame anyone but yourself. It’s your neck on the line at all times. People are looking to you, and you alone, for leadership and guidance. As a leader, you are standing in the rain and your job is to shield those on your team with an ever shrinking piece of newspaper. And it has to work.
OK, sure. That probably sounds good in a blog post, but how can you really do that in real life? The key is to unlock the power of your mind by adopting a resourcefulness mindset.
I won’t waste your time with hundreds of words of explanation. A resourcefulness mindset means that you are a problem solver down to your core, in every aspect of your being. Making this shift will allow you to do a few things. First, your source of empowerment will come from within, rather than without. You’ll find yourself able to do much more than than simply react to stressful or uncomfortable situations.
With a resourceful mindset and inner empowerment, you’ll start to think first. Isolating problems and finding ways to complete projects on deadline will become second nature. With this mindset you’ll begin to realize: When you must, you will. Let that sink in.
When Andrea came on at LeadMD she immediately brought the mindset of “I must.” That mentality has been a key element in LeadMD’s growth and success. So without further ado, I’d like to share her keys to ownership and how you can implement them to see massive success no matter where you are in your career.
Owning a leadership position: Charting a course
The first question I asked Andrea was: If you had to give advice to someone who is just coming into their first leadership role, what would it be? What are the keys to “owning” it?
“To see success in a leadership role, you’re going to have to figure out how to get where you want to be, and chart a course to it.” Andrea said. “The fuel you’ll use to reach your goals is determination. Where does determination come from? Motivation.”
The way Andrea sees it, there are three main motivators:
Fear: The most powerful motivator, but not always the most useful. That’s because if you are motivated by fear, you’re working more to prevent bad outcomes than you are to create positive ones.
Challenge: People who are motivated by challenge don’t see obstacles, only opportunities. Seeing even the more dire circumstances as a challenge is one of the most positive and powerful motivators out there. Think of Derek Jeter’s immortal quote: “I don’t hear boos, only cheers.”
Achievement: Achievement as a motivator means that you will never rest until you see true excellence in everything you touch. There are no shortcuts. When achievement motivates you, all the hard you work you put into excellence reflects directly back onto you. This is the heart of the “ownership” mentality.
Andrea’s bottom line: Do the hard work to find out what motivates you. You can only know the answer by knowing yourself.
Owning an employee position
The second question I posed to Andrea was: To someone who is in an employee role (i.e. not running a a department) what can they do do to “own” it, even though they aren’t in a leadership position?
“For an employee, there’s an interesting duality that you have to be conscious of and balance at all times.” Andrea said. “You have to respect your boss, but at the same time know that they are a human being just like you. So that means that they don’t have all the right, or best, answers.”
Now, that’s not to say you should be some type of know-it-all. Nobody likes those, and nothing will get you in the hot seat faster than undermining your boss’s authority at every turn.
The key here is to not deflect, but challenge. If you don’t know the why of something, it’s up to you to push to find out. Never, ever be afraid to ask why? In, fact it should be a part of your daily routine as you perform your job. When you push to find out why, you’ll always be aware of the context of your work, which provides that all-important meaning we hear so much about. With meaning, you can be comfortable knowing that you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself.
Andrea’s bottom line: When you actively challenge and ask why, you’ll be much more dynamic and robust and avoid the pitfall of just doing things to get them done. You’ll also avoid the trap most people fall into – resentment, and hating your job.
Andrea’s secret recipe for on-the-job happiness
The third question that I wanted Andrea’s thoughts on was: What do you view as the most pivotal aspect to feeling happy with your position? Is happiness at work something that’s achievable?
“Always be asking yourself: What’s the biggest change I can make today that equates to my happiness?” Andrea said. “My view is that happiness is heavily correlated with the level of control you have over your position. And to maximize control, or at least your feeling of it, it’s super important that you take ownership of even the smallest details.”
By now, you’re no doubt familiar with the wisdom Mike Rowe dispensed to fan asking for career advice. If you haven’t seen it, go read it right now. What Mike’s advice boils down to is this: How happy you are with your position has nothing to do with the position you hold, but everything to do with you.
And good old Mike Rowe isn’t alone in this thinking, either. To quote Abraham Lincoln, of all people: “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
Above all, Andrea feels that taking ownership means that you don’t approach your job like a typical employee, waiting around to be told what to do. It’s about adopting the mentality that you are running a business-within-a-business. Because you are. When you take ownership, everything discussed in this article will come to you almost naturally. You’ll be more resourceful, less reactive, and happier in your position. You’ll be motivated by creating value and never see obstacles, only challenges that will make you stronger.
Andrea’s bottom line: Create ownership in everything you do. It’s YOURS. Take it!
Wow, how very Tony Montana right? The world is yours. I believe in this mentality strongly. At one point in our history LeadMD, (then known as MaaS Impact) white-labeled Marketo’s software. We had 3 employees. The go-to-market strategy behind that was a huge failure, but the fact that we did it was a monster success in my view – all because we asked.
We could have said it was too hard or made excuses, but we didn’t allow those to hinder us. Complaining isn’t synonymous with owners, they take charge and overcome. What can you do to own your surroundings? If we heed Andrea’s recommendations, we start to change our outlook and begin to truly know ourselves. Oh, and what became of that epic Marketo white-label failure? The most Marketo implementations under one roof in the world. All because of mindset.
Join us again next week as we dive further into this topic with another LeadMD owner who has figured out how to escape the employee mentality and achieve massive success.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.