People are largely motivated by values. Values of course are the levels of importance people place on things. For example, I made the decision to buy my car because of the mix of values (cost, brand, reliability, proximity to dealership, aesthetic appeal, etc.) I was evaluating at the time I went car shopping. The role of the salesman was to try and make his cars match my values. The salesman whose “value proposition” most closely matches my own gets the sale. As odd as this sounds, this is the essence of leadership.
A leader’s primary job is to achieve a goal. The faster that goal is achieved, the more successful that leader is perceived. Most goals require a collection of skills and abilities, thus a leader must identify the people who have those abilities and must convince them to work together. How does one accomplish this, you ask? Well, the leader must understand each individuals values, then he must show them how the mission they are on will satisfy those values. Let’s look at a real life example…
My agency, Catalyst Online, has a mission to become the top search agency in the world. In order to complete that mission, we need to have some seriously talented search marketers, but why should a talented marketer choose Catalyst over another leading agency? How do you recruit and retrain that top talent? The answer is in the value proposition.
Most SEOs, and this also goes for programmers, web devs, or any job in tech, tend to be young males in their 20s and 30s. Many are single, a few years out of college and are looking to make a name for themselves. <- This is an important insight, because once you know how highly the desire to “Achieve Greatness” is, you can proposition your company as a means for them to accomplish just that. That’s why Catalyst emphasizes things like, “A challenging work environment”, “weekly technical training”, “clear career paths” and the ability to work on the “largest, most exciting, most complicated brands in the world”.
Most companies want to focus on perks like vacation days and lucrative bonus packages. That’s all well and good, but believe it or not that value proposition is further away from the values young guys in tech have these days. They want to be challenged, because the larger the challenge, the greater the reward.
To become a good leader, you need to understand your team’s values. Then you need to clearly communicate those values to each team member in a way that closely matches their individual values. You don’t want to lie, rather you want to help them understand how joining you on this journey can help them achieve what’s most valuable to them.
Let me know if you agree. By the way, Catalyst Online has a spot open for a talented SEO. If you live in NY or Boston, shoot me an email at dan[at]dancristo.com for some details about the opening.