Chief Marketing Officer

Wells Fargo’s VP of Innovation on Leading through Change

Jonathan Alloy, Vice President of Innovation at Wells Fargo, shared his thoughts on what it takes to lead a marketing organization through a period of change during a Fireside Chat with Jennifer Borchardt, Director of Omnichannel Experience & Strategy and Wealth Management at US Bank, at the 2018 CMO Financial Services Forum: Marketing & Technology Innovation in San Francisco on October 30. During the Fireside Chat, “Leading Through Change,” Alloy offered several tips to help marketing leaders achieve the optimal results, even during a transition period.

Marketing leaders are tasked with managing employees and helping these workers perform a wide range of day-to-day tasks. Yet some marketing professionals struggle to differentiate leadership from management.

Leadership and management are not interchangeable terms. Whereas virtually anyone can be named a manager, becoming a successful leader requires a broad array of interpersonal and communication skills.

Today’s leaders must understand how to engage with employees on a one-to-one basis. At the same time, leaders are responsible for helping workers contribute to an organization’s success, as well as ensuring these employees can achieve their career goals. That way, leaders and employees can work together to deliver meaningful results.

“All that’s required to be a manager is convincing an executive to hire you and give you direct reports,” Alloy indicated. “Being a leader means that you truly care about your people … and you’re taking them somewhere that is value-adding.”

How a leader guides his or her team may vary based on changes that are taking place across an organization, too.

Leaders must remain agile and adjust their day-to-day efforts based on organizational activities. If leaders maintain flexibility, they can quickly adapt to changes. Best of all, these leaders can minimize interruptions and ensure employees are fully supported, regardless of the changes taking place in an organization.

“The way we have to lead and manage through change is different from the way we have to lead and manage when things are running smoothly,” Alloy said.

The ability to guide a team may play a key role in a leader’s immediate and long-term success as well.

Leaders who understand employees’ strengths and weaknesses, for example, can take steps to put these workers in position to succeed. Plus, leaders who learn about various employees can help these workers build their skill sets so that they can help an organization achieve its desired results.

“There is such an incredible impact that people have, even more so than systems and processes,” Alloy pointed out.

Furthermore, measurement is important for leaders. Yet leaders need to track relevant metrics and update their metrics based on an organization’s strategy.

“You need to measure the right perspective and make sure you’re measuring the right things,” Alloy stated. “A lot of times in business, we get fixated on measuring a goal. But when it comes to change, you need to make sure you’re measuring the right thing.”

Leaders also serve as active listeners. They are willing to discuss concerns and questions with employees, particularly in periods where an organization is undergoing myriad changes.

If leaders are willing to open the lines of communication with employees, they could help workers feel more confident in their day-to-day responsibilities. As a result, employees may be willing to share their thoughts and ideas to help an organization thrive both now and in the future.

“You have to listen,” Alloy pointed out. “Bad managers tend to make it about ‘I’ … and managers who won’t listen tend to end up surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”

Leaders can foster a culture that encourages active listening among employees. With this culture in place, leaders and their employees can engage with one another and develop strong partnerships.

“Mind the gap between what you say and what you do,” Alloy noted. “Listening is a skill you can cultivate to get respect and engagement with the people around you.”

Trust can have major ramifications on a leader and his or her team. By showing confidence in his or her team, a leader can build loyalty. Furthermore, this leader can drive innovation across his or her team.

“A-people hire A-people, and B-people hire C-people,” Alloy indicated. “As a [leader], especially in a time of change, one of the best things you can do is trust your people.”

Going forward, it is crucial for leaders to empower their employees in any way possible. If employees feel empowered, they can maintain poised and confident during periods of change within an organization. These employees also may be better equipped than others to adapt to organizational changes and provide significant contributions day after day.

“Empowerment is critically important … because change is, by its nature, disruptive,” Alloy said. “At a time of change, it is important to empower people to make the decisions that will inflect their own course.”

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