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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on October 12, 2011

There is an old adage out there: divide and conquer. If you ever took economics you’ll remember this is because there are economies of scale for doing a lot of one thing rather than a little bit of a lot of things.

And so, it makes sense that people will try to become masters of something rather than the jack of all trades to help them stand out from the crowd. It stands to reason then, that everyone is good at some things and bad at others. Many creative folks are not very technical or analytical and vice versa. (Of course there are many out there with multiple talents but we’re going to exclude that group for now).

This concept applies to teams and groups of people as well, although of course the combined skill set is greater than the sum of the parts. So what does this have to do with the leadership principle at hand?

Taking stock of your strengths and limitations is like getting ready to go grocery shopping. Knowing what you already have will ensure you are picking up the stuff you’re missing rather than overstocking on what you already own.

The same is true of recruiting. If you run a small business and you’re great at accounting or producing widgets but poor at marketing you are better off to hire someone to help you with marketing than an accountant.

So take stock of your own strengths and limitations. Then make a list of things you’d like to get better at and seek self-improvement or surround yourself with those skills.

And take stock often. Your skill set will evolve with some skills becoming stronger while others are diminishing and others yet are becoming obsolete. Ask yourself if your skills are still relevant and where there is opportunity for growth.

This is just as important for your business. Are sales strong but service poor? Then maybe you need to invest in some additional service personnel. Is production optimized for demand? If not, perhaps you need a stronger marketing program to help level out the equation.

Whether you are running a company, running a team or just trying to stay ahead, take the time to identify your point of difference and then work on improving the rest.

There are a lot of different ways for you to improve your skill set and those of your followers, but a good way to do is to cross learn with your existing team. You could host weekly team learning sessions or promote professional development courses. It’s corny but true – the more you learn, the more you know.

Read the other leadership principles:

  1. Lead by example
  2. Make sound and timely decisions
  3. Seek and accept responsibility
  4. Achieve professional competence
  5. Know your troops and promote their welfare
  6. Develop leadership potential in your followers
  7. Train your troops as a team and employ them to their capabilities
  8. Appreciate your own strengths and weaknesses and pursue self-improvement
  9. Keep your team informed of the mission, the changing situation and the overall picture
  10. Ensure your followers know your meaning and intent and lead them to the accomplishment of the mission

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