I have worked on some amazing teams throughout my career. I find the best people to work with are emotionally mature and understand the proper balance of ego and intelligence.
The worst organisations are those where ego outweighs intelligent decision-making. Life is too short to work with people whose ego gets in the way.
A healthy amount of ego is okay. Ego drives pride, and when people take pride in their work, they tend to be successful. Ego gets in the way when you make too many decisions based on what your ego feels and how it manifests in day-to-day business (and life, for that matter).
One sign of a healthy organisation is that data is used to dispel ego and to correctly drive decisions. When you rely on gut instincts, ego too often is allowed to get in the way.
Data can tell you who your target customer should be. Data can help you understand which channels are best performers and guide you toward the right kinds of messaging. Data can be a valuable tool because if it is correctly pulled together, your recommendations are well-supported with accurate, actionable insight.
In a board room, or any other room in your organisation, the decisions are easier to make when you supply those insights. If you pose a recommendation supported with data, a healthy debate may arise, but an argument is less likely to happen. Using data turns the conversation from one focused on emotion and converts it into one based on logic. Logic is better in most cases, and especially in a corporate environment.
The best-run teams I have ever worked with instituted processes that fostered a data-driven approach. Marketing, sales and product should all be sitting with one another on a regular basis and diving into the data. You need to get into a cadence of data-driven analysis where you identify challenges, uncover possible insights that guide a solution, and hypothesise actions to be taken.
My personal recommendation is to establish either weekly business reviews or daily stand-ups. The frequency depends on the situation and the size of your organisation. If you are small and nimble and your dashboards are easy to access and deliver in real time, daily stand-ups can be good because you have the ability to look at clear metrics and make decisions quickly and cleanly.
If you are a larger organisation and dependent on broader teams to gain access, process and organise the data from unstructured to structured delivery, then a weekly review can be better. You can go less often, maybe biweekly, if need be. I don’t recommend going to a longer cadence because then your organisation shifts from being data-driven to less so.
When you get into that cadence and you instil the discipline of looking at data, ego becomes less of an issue.
Ego rises up when you do one of two things. First, when you imply that someone is not doing the right kind of work — which hurts their feelings. Second, when you create tons of new work for the person on the other end of the argument. Ego can get in the way when you create what they consider unnecessary work on their part, based on what they consider a personal decision. Their pushback is driven by ego.
Ego is an emotional issue, and you never want a business decision to be based on a personal or emotional set of criteria. Emotion is not a way to run a business.
Yet when leveraged properly, ego can be a valuable tool for the organisation. Ego can be used to drive success. The key is to balance ego, or the emotion behind it, with logic. Data can inject logic into an otherwise emotional conversation, and that is how a mature team works together.
Cory Treffiletti is chief marketing officer at Voicera. He has been a thought leader, executive and business driver in the digital media landscape since 1994. In addition to authoring a weekly column on digital media, advertising and marketing since 2000 for MediaPost‘s Online Spin, Treffiletti has been a successful executive, media expert and/or founding team member for a number of companies and published a book, Internet Ad Pioneers, in 2012.
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