Had a wonderful time this morning speaking shop with Lorraine Ball. Lorraine's company specializes in strategic content initiatives for small to medium size businesses in Indianapolis – including blogging, newsletters and press releases. Lorraine has been a big supporter and her husband Andrew is a great guy and incredible artist.
Lorraine and I have had the opportunity to work for very large corporations, but we love the agility and excitement of small business. Lorraine encourages all of her interns to work for a large business for a number of years… I would recommend it as well. The lessons learned in leadership in a large company can be critical when running a small business.
In a very large business, to maintain productivity, you must assign responsibilities to leaders. Supervisors execute the vision of leaders and monitor employees. Managers balance priorities and remove obstacles. Directors help maintain the long-term vision and ensure that the department is staying on the path. Vice Presidents create the long-term vision and the strategy of the organizations. The folks at the top guide, promote, cheerlead, and oversee the business.
[Photo cropped from a background found on Gnome]
Lorraine came up with a beautiful metaphor. Being a leader in a company is very much like controlling a river. If your goal is to stop the river, you're going to run into problems! Companies have momentum… you're going to make a huge mess if you simply keep trying to throw up dams or redirect the water where it doesn't want to go. Micromanaging the river won't result in anything but a mess.
The objective of the leader should be to utilize the momentum of the water to keep the direction of the water moving in the direction the vision requires. Each leader in the organization and their subsequent teams and employees are tools to shift the momentum. It requires a leader to adapt, empower, and delegate the necessary functions… and continue to keep an eye on the horizon and where the company is heading.
This isn't unlike Social Media and Online Marketing. Hastily constructed campaigns and ever-changing strategies may result in minor results here and there. Long-term strategies that leverage each medium for its strengths, with properly allotted resources, can direct the river of revenue for your company. The river is going to continue to move with incredible force… the question is whether or not you're going to harness that force or fight it!