Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

How to Gain Trust, Support and Understanding From Your Peers

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In 1999, management guru Peter Drucker wrote a classic piece for Harvard Business Review titled "Managing Oneself." His thesis was that in the emerging knowledge economy, success comes to those who know their strengths, their values and how they best perform.

Greg Taucher is chief people officer at DDB Worldwide. He is responsible for recruitment and talent development throughout the agency.
Stacey Prenner is practice leader-talent management for DDB University and talent management director, DDB North America.

In today's era of convergence and integration, Mr. Drucker's thesis must also acknowledge the importance of collaboration. Now that the knowledge economy has emerged and the virtual agency model is firmly in place, a critical factor for personal and organizational success -- whether you're new to the work force or a senior manager with years of experience under your belt -- is being able to effectively influence, without all the trappings of politics and the blinding use of "I," people who may not necessarily report to you, work in the same marketing-services discipline as you or even work in the same company as you. And "influence" may, in fact, be the wrong word in this context. It's really more about your ability to lead and foster collaboration in an increasingly interdependent agency world.

Everyone enters the world with characteristics that reside deep within -- drive, grit, courage, determination and the ability to motivate and influence others. But how you go about developing these characteristics through actual interdisciplinary group leadership and contribution experiences is what makes the difference. And the good news is that the ability to lead, motivate and foster collaboration is not tied to age, tenure, title or discipline -- but to one's own pursuit of continuous improvement.

Staying ahead of the curve
They say knowledge is power -- and in today's world almost every customer your clients have is a search, click, text, IM, podcast, RSS, MySpace, You Tube or viral-marketing opportunity away. That's why, in this rapidly changing marketing-services landscape, it's imperative you have in-depth comprehension of the traditional, nontraditional and emerging marketing disciplines. Get outside your comfort zone, develop your own industry network cadre and seek out every opportunity to further your understanding of the ever-changing business of our business. The personal-knowledge investments you make now will enable you to lead, motivate and foster true marketing change in the future. The more you prepare now, the more you will have the trust, understanding and support of your peers and colleagues.

The blind spot for most out-of-the-box initiatives is lack of due diligence on the operations side. This is the giant killer. In today's business you always have to remember the commercial side of the equation. People will not respond well to new ideas, thinking and perspective if they do not fully understand the concept to begin with, and if you have not developed and presented a solid business case to back it all up. You need to be totally steeped in the ins, outs, ups and downs of the collective business models and requirements within which you are working, and incorporate this perspective into your thinking, planning and execution. Talk about influencing others -- make sure you have the "ops guys" (legal, finance, sales, procurement, logistics, retail, HR) fully onboard and in complete agreement with the strategy, structure and execution initiative upfront.

If you can define and articulate your value, people will seek you out. Show signs of wanting to know more, continuously learn about other disciplines besides your own and strive for better ways of doing things. These behaviors are contagious -- and through leadership you will inspire those around you to develop stronger partnerships to achieve the collective objectives of the organization, your team and yourself.
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