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Why Self-Awareness in Leadership is a Must-Have for Success

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Why Self-Awareness in Leadership is a Must-Have for Success

As a leader, you need to accept that you are not always going to be right and you aren’t always going to excel in everything — and that’s okay! Self-awareness in leadership is key to the success of any organization and can encourage growth, adaptability, and honesty in the workplace.

To help you learn why self-awareness in leadership is integral to your company’s success, we’re going to explore the meaning of self-awareness, its benefits, and real-life examples of self-awareness from business leaders.

What is self-awareness in leadership?

Self-awareness in leadership means having a conscious understanding of your character, behaviors, motives, and how these things impact your leadership abilities.

Are your motives aligned with your company’s goals? How do you behave as a leader when things don’t go as planned? How does your character impact your interactions with your colleagues and subordinates?

These are questions to ask yourself — and answer honestly — to build your self-awareness as a leader.

“Everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses,” said HubSpot Marketing Fellow Dan Tyre. “Being self-aware means that you are aware of the things you do well and the things that you need to develop or delegate.

“It means understanding that the process of working with those attributes sends a strong, consistent, universal message that it is perfectly okay to be good in some capacity and need support in others, which should be reassuring to everyone. Leaders who are living the values of the organization are by definition more authentic, more consistent, and can greatly contribute to the foundations of the company’s success.”

Why is self-awareness important in leadership?

Self-awareness in leadership can help you, as a leader, understand what you bring to your role. Having self-awareness means having an understanding of where you thrive and where you should improve —and when your leadership, your company’s productivity tends to follow.

Benefits of Self-Awareness in Leadership

Self-awareness can benefit an organization in many ways — one of which is by establishing trust. Employees are more likely to put their trust in leaders who hold themselves accountable and are honest about their leadership styles and shortcomings. And building a culture of trust and honesty leads to higher engagement among employees.

Self-aware leaders also promote advancement in learning and development. When a leader shows they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses — and are actively working to improve — they create an environment that encourages personal growth. A self-aware leader will encourage their team members to pursue personal growth by acting as a mentor, organizing workshops, or helping employees improve their skills.

Another benefit of self-awareness in leadership is improved decision-making. Being self-aware about your goals and how they align with the company’s objectives will help you make more sound decisions overall. And those sound decisions will lead to better strategies and more targeted campaigns.

5 Examples of Self-Awareness in Leadership

I reached out to multiple leaders on LinkedIn to get their perspective on self-awareness in leadership and real-world examples. Here’s what I learned:

1. Debbie Olusola Akintonde – Education Marketing & Growth Strategy Consultant at Amuseng

“You can’t be empathetic, let alone emotionally intelligent as a leader if you aren’t self aware.I remember when I got a job in which one of the requirements for the interview was to write a complete strategy on how I would tackle a real problem I would be facing immediately in the role if I was hired. Even though I got the job, I relied on self awareness to guide me [and] not to start implementing the strategy I came up with immediately.

“Instead, after getting hired, I chose to listen and collaborate with other candidates and stakeholders to align our goals and plans as a group in order to optimize the results we would achieve together.

“It is crucial to be self aware because it will help you lead more effectively and improve your capacity for personal and professional growth.”

2. Tracy Graziani – Owner of Graziani Multimedia LLC

“For me, self-awareness has helped me to understand and be mindful of implicit bias. One of my dear friends is an insightful nonprofit CEO. In a conversation about hiring we were discussing interviewing mistakes candidates make.

“I always ask people why, of all the candidates I interview, should I hire them. I then went on to say that when people answered that question with needs —like ‘I’m a single mom,’ or, ‘I have loads of college loans —’I didn’t hire them, but when they answered with their achievements I did hire them. My friend then upended my thinking.

“She said, ‘How likely is it that those who listed needs are in — or grew up in — poverty?’ My answer? ‘Seems likely.’

“She then provided perspective. She explained that people in poverty always have to give ‘proof of poverty’ to get what they need. Government services, charities, even religious organizations hold a lot of power and don’t give you what you need to survive without ‘proof of poverty.’ So they go into the workforce and expect similar rules.

“Jobs have something you need. Therefore, they should prove that they need the job. That blew my mind. I simply never saw the world through that lens. I interview differently now.”

3. Dan MoyleHubSpot Advisor

“Leadership is about trust. I’ve witnessed the greatest leadership when someone builds that trust through self-awareness coupled with humility.

“When a leader has said to me, ‘I don’t know everything, and this particular situation is beyond my knowledge b trust you know what you’re doing, so go do what you’re good at.,‘ that kind of awareness of self and understanding built immediate trust within me for my leadership, and even went beyond to build a loyalty you can’t demand.”

4. Demetrius B. – Founder of Marro

“As a young leader in the SaaS space, I found myself seeking to achieve results quickly to ensure I developed, designed, and scaled at a pace that was comparable to my competitors. As a result, I put unfair pressure on those working with me to reach KPIs and milestones that were not realistic for a startup of our size.

“It took reflection and maturity for me to recognize that founders and leaders are not the only ones who feel the pressure to execute — it trickles down to everyone we work with. In my experience, employees don’t react in a positive manner to extremely tight deadlines, limited wiggle room for error, and constant micromanaging.

“What I learned was most important was empowering my engineers and working with my sales team to understand what they need to be successful early on to help lay a strong foundation for a software company that will stand the test of time. Leadership is not being a dictator, it is understanding what your team needs to be successful and how to fulfill the vision of the organization long term!”

5. Jordan Bazinsky – Executive Vice President and General Manager at Cotiviti

“We have an R&D and Operations center in Kathmandu, Nepal. In April 2015, they were hit by a 7.8 earthquake. I received a call in the middle of the night from Markandeya Kumar Talluri, who led the office, and was huddled for safety in a doorway. The subsequent aftershocks were devastating for a country already limited by its infrastructure: ultimately 9,000 deaths and 600,000 buildings destroyed.

“Kumar lived in India and could have gone home while Nepal picked through the rubble and rebuilt. Instead, he stayed in Kathmandu, invited families to come live in our office on a temporary basis, created space for Operation Rubicon to base their relief activities, set up phone chains and efforts to locate not just our employees but friends and family that were missing.

“He intuitively knew that the people under his care would absorb his energy and take cues from his attitude, and managed himself accordingly. It remains one of the most powerful examples of self-awareness in service of others that I have witnessed at work.”

To practice self-awareness as a leader, take the time to write down your strengths and weaknesses as well as actionable steps you can take to improve — and don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues to get their input on your leadership skills.

Remember, leaders lead by example, and if you show that you’re willing to grow and improve, your team will likely do the same.

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them

Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years. 

So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more. 

In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets. 

The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years 

From fake clicks and click flooding to bad bots and fake ad impressions, fraudsters have and will go to any lengths to siphon critical dollars from your ad budgets.

Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world. 

Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views 

In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements. 

Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites. 

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Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.

In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution. 

Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend 

In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won. 

Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic. 

The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs. 

In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding. 

Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme 

In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages. 

Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own. 

Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts 

In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.

In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all. 

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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases 

All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world. 

The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases. 

  1. No one is safe from ad fraud 

Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud. 

  1. Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods

Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud. 

Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.

  1. Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals

Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results. 

For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions. 

Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised. 

  1. You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet

As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already. 

  1. You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud  

Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence. 

  1. But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go

The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals. 


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