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Perspectives on Effective Leadership in 2021 and Beyond

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Perspectives on Effective Leadership in 2021 and Beyond

In an ever-changing business environment, strong leadership is essential to an organization’s survival and success. The competition is relentless and the threat of digital disruption looms large. Since 2000, half of Fortune 500 companies have breathed their last breath from not being digitally nimble.

As the world progresses, business leaders face challenges that didn’t seem like such a big deal even ten years ago. Here is a look at some key organizational issues worthy of your focus.

#1: Removing internal silos and increasing inter-departmental collaboration

Hyper-collaboration has entered the business lexicon and open office arrangements have become increasingly common. Yet, departmental silos remain in place, often to the detriment of companies seeking fast growth. Leaders face the challenge to break down these silos.

Redesigning the organizational structure is out of bounds for most organizations given how time-consuming and expensive it can be. Nurturing a silo mindset is a viable option. It involves promoting the idea that departments exist not to succeed as individual units but to serve other departments and to unify to move the organization forward. A concrete action would be to train people from different departments to engage effectively at interfaces. In this regard, new businesses can consider gaining useful guidance from a reputed provider of executive coaching in the District of Columbia.

#2: Remaining competitive in the war for talent

How successfully have you been able to attract the most talented and skilled employees to your company? In all industries, the war for talent is getting fiercer, and some businesses are at a disadvantage. Here’s why.

A lack of robust HR policies is proving problematic to recruitment efforts. To cite an example, not having a relocation package means you will miss out on a top-tier candidate. Outdated hiring practices are preventing companies from selecting the best candidates from the available talent pool. For example, a business may focus excessively on qualifications and not enough on 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility. Or the hiring manager may schedule one too many interviews that antagonize applicants. A good starting point would be to revisit your HR policies and procedures, and investigate your hiring practices along with outcomes like attrition rate, individual and team performance, rate of innovation, and financial performance.

#3: Driving growth and innovation

Businesses today acknowledge the need to act quickly on ideas and keep the wheels turning with idea generation. A maze of rules and micromanaging people is counterproductive to these priorities. Our experience delivering executive coaching in Maryland also finds that they exhaust both managers and the managed.

Giving people autonomy and ownership over their work, and accepting new ideas easily are crucial to empowering people. The extent to which these actions deliver outcomes will depend on the quality of your workforce. Hiring talented, motivated, and passionate individuals can help you hit the ground running on your growth and innovation goals. For example, as HR manager, you can make it a priority to hire people who not only fit the bill as far as skills and work history are concerned, but also share the same values as your organization.

#4: Serving multiple stakeholders

Why do businesses exist? Even fifty years ago, this question would have elicited the following answer from most organizations: to make a profit and serve stakeholders’ needs. In 1970, the well-known economist Milton Friedman famously said that companies had no duty to serve their employees or to benefit the world. He argued that their duty was solely to maximize profits and minimize costs so as to generate the most value.

Friendman’s views would be shot down today. Indeed, the legendary management Peter Drucker said that while profitability is an absolute for businesses, it isn’t the sole reason for a business to exist. According to Drucker, profits give businesses ‘energy’ by supporting the core functions of marketing and innovation, and provide capital for more jobs and better jobs. Today, business leaders would argue that they are duty-bound to multiple stakeholders, from shareholders and employees to customers and communities. Profits enable businesses to do something new or better.

How do you go about satisfying multiple stakeholders? A results-focused program relating to executive coaching in Maryland would guide companies to develop a plan for managing multiple stakeholders. Companies could first identify stakeholders, determine their interests, manage conflicts of interest, define outcomes, organize communication, and implement reporting methods.

#5: Making the most of employees’ talents

You have hired top-level candidates. How effectively you leverage their talents will ultimately decide whether your superstar hires contribute to your business goals. They must be sufficiently engaged to perform to expectations in their role and remain with your company for a few years at least to make a sizable difference to your growth and innovation goals. For this, aligning engagement, performance, and employee development is paramount. A possible strategy would be to:

  • Understand the strengths of your people and use them to improve outcomes
  • Establish an effective performance management and reward system
  • Provide developmental opportunities to help employees grow their skills, including running leadership training programs

Developing identifiable career paths is a key aspect of retention plans. A lack of career growth is one of the top reasons why people leave their company. Making career development for promising employees a top-of-mind issue can help you avoid the revolving door of talent.

#6: Getting blindsided by disruptors

Gazing into your crystal ball to correctly predict the medium to long term future of your industry hinges on your willingness to watch trends, competitors, emerging services, and the business ecosystem, on a continual basis. You will also want to ask ‘what’s new?’, ‘what’s next?’, and ‘where can we improve?’.

Hindsight is not an option in our fast-moving business landscape; there is an urgent need to understand and act, as any executive coaching Maryland professional would tell you. A comprehensive business strategy and effective change management initiatives are critical to not just survive disruption but also thrive in a changing business environment.

Self-reflect to stay motivated and build stronger teams

Self-reflection is touted as a beneficial leadership practice, and for good reason. To err is human; we all have our weaknesses and implicit biases that can come in the way of making the best possible decisions allowed in our position of authority and power. Asking yourself why you did what you did and why you aren’t doing something that has its merits, will help you better understand the leadership areas you need to work on, biases to overcome, and gain clarity on your core values. It will mold you into a well-rounded leader and help you get comfortable around improving your leadership abilities throughout your entire life.

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts


Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

Who doesn’t like to have a good experience consuming content?

I know I do. And isn’t that what we – as both a consumer of content and a marketer of content – all want?

What if you create such a good experience that your audience doesn’t even realize it’s an “experience?” Here’s a helpful mish-mash of easy-to-do things to make that possible.

1. Write with an inclusive heart

There’s nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone who constantly talks about themselves. Check your text to see how often you write the words – I, me, we, and us. Now, count how often the word “you” is used. If the first-person uses are disproportionate to the second-person uses, edit to delete many first-person references and add more “you” to the text.

You want to let your audience know they are included in the conversation. I like this tip shared in Take Binary Bias Out of Your Content Conversations by Content Marketing World speaker Ruth Carter: Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns.

Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns, says @rbcarter via @Brandlovellc @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Make your content shine brighter with an AI assist

Content published online should look different than the research papers and essays you wrote in school. While you should adhere to grammar rules and follow a style guide as best as possible, you also should prioritize readability. That requires scannable and easily digestible text – headings, bulleted text, short sentences, brief paragraphs, etc.

Use a text-polishing aid such as Hemingway Editor (free and paid versions) to cut the dead weight from your writing. Here’s how its color-coded review system works and the improvements to make:

  • Yellow – lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors
    • Fix: Shorten or split sentences.
  • Red – dense and complicated text
    • Fix: Remove hurdles and keep your readers on a simpler path.
  • Pink – lengthy words that could be shortened
    • Fix: Scroll the mouse over the problematic word to identify potential substitutes.
  • Blue – adverbs and weakening phrases
    • Fix: Delete them or find a better way to convey the thought.
  • Green – passive voice
    • Fix: Rewrite for active voice.

Grammarly’s paid version works well, too. The premium version includes an AI-powered writing assistant, readability reports, a plagiarism checker, citation suggestions, and more than 400 additional grammar checks.

In the image below, Grammarly suggests a way to rephrase the sentence from:

“It is not good enough any longer to simply produce content “like a media company would”.

To:

“It is no longer good enough to produce content “as a media company would”.

Much cleaner, right?

3. Ask questions

See what I did with the intro (and here)? I posed questions to try to engage with you. When someone asks a question – even in writing – the person hearing (or reading) it is likely to pause for a split second to consider their answer. The reader’s role changes from a passive participant to an active one. Using this technique also can encourage your readers to interact with the author, maybe in the form of an answer in the comments.

4. Include links

Many content marketers include internal and external links in their text for their SEO value. But you also should add links to help your readers. Consider including links to help a reader who wants to learn more about the topic. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • You can link the descriptive text in the article to content relevant to those words (as I did in this bullet point)
  • You can list the headlines of related articles as a standalone feature (see the gray box labeled Handpicked Related Content at the end of this article).

Add links to guide readers to more information on a topic – not just for SEO purposes says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You also can include on-page links or bookmarks in the beginning (a table of contents, of sorts) in longer pieces to help the reader more quickly access the content they seek to help you learn more about a topic. This helps the reader and keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Don’t forget the ‘invisible’ text

Alt text is often an afterthought – if you think about it all. Yet, it’s essential to have a great content experience for people who use text-to-speech readers. Though it doesn’t take too much time, I find that customizing the image description content instead of relying on the default technology works better for audience understanding.

First, ask if a listener would miss something if they didn’t have the image explained. If they wouldn’t, the image is decorative and probably doesn’t need alt text. You publish it for aesthetic reasons, such as to break up a text-heavy page. Or it may repeat information already appearing in the text (like I did in the Hemingway and Grammarly examples above).

If the listener would miss out if the image weren’t explained well, it is informative and requires alt text. General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text. That’s a short sentence or two to convey the image’s message. Don’t forget to include punctuation.

General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text, says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For both decorative and informative images, include the photo credits, permissions, and copyright information, in the caption section.

For example, if I were writing an article about Best Dogs for Families, I would include an image of a mini Bernedoodle as an example because they make great family pets. Let’s use this image of my adorable puppy, Henri, and I’ll show you both a good and bad example of alt text.

An almost useless alt-text version: “An image showing a dog.”

Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.

It wastes valuable characters with the phrase “an image showing.”

Use the available characters for a more descriptive alt text: “Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.”

It’s more descriptive, and I only used 112 characters, including spaces.

Want to learn more? Alexa Heinrich, an award-winning social media strategist, has a helpful article on writing effective image descriptions called The Art of Alt Text. @A11yAwareness on Twitter is also a great resource for accessibility tips.

Improve your content and better the experience

Do any of these suggestions feel too hard to execute? I hope not. They don’t need a bigger budget to execute. They don’t need a lengthy approval process to implement. And they don’t demand much more time in production.

They just need you to remember to execute them the next time you write (and the time after that, and the time after that, and the … well, you get the idea.)

If you have an easy-to-implement tip to improve the content experience, please leave it in the comments. I may include it in a future update.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

If you have an idea for an original article you’d like to share with the CMI audience, you could get it published on the site. First, read our blogging guidelines and write or adjust your draft accordingly. Then submit the post for consideration following the process outlined in the guidelines.

In appreciation for guest contributors’ work, we’re offering free registration to one paid event or free enrollment in Content Marketing University to anyone who gets two new posts accepted and published on the CMI site in 2023.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

Product marketing is essential, even if you only sell one or two products at your organization.

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