What are You Doing to Stand Out as a Leader?

Earlier this week I spent 3 days at Adtech – the largest digital advertising conference. One of the keynotes I found most interesting was Kristi VandenBosch, CEO of Publicis, who spoke about how the hyper-competitive advertising industry should learn to collaborate – especially between digital and “traditional” agencies.  I was particularly struck by this quote: “For agencies these days, true leadership means the ability not to lead, to do what you do brilliantly and surround yourself with people that do other things more brilliantly than you do”.

I believe that this also applies directly to our own personal leadership.  If we do what we do brilliantly and naturally doesn’t success usually follow?  If we put our great talents to work and focus on what we do best,  don’t other brilliant folks show up to work with us?  Is it that simple?

I believe it can be.

We all have our own personal brand.  It is critical that we’re clear on our own strengths, talents and what differentiates us. As Seth Godin talks about in his book “Linchpin”, we need to make ourselves indispensable in order to succeed. And how do we do that?  In the current state of the global workforce, most of us are paid to think. Becoming indispensable means coming up with novel ideas and taking risks to implement then.

As I spoke about in my adtech session on “Maximizing and Managing Time”, 50% of all workers these days do creative work. What does it mean to be creative? Webster says to create means to:  “make or bring into existence something new”. And it also means pulling together information in a novel way. Novelty gets attention. Attention is an opportunity to give people a reason to differentiate you and your talents from others.  Isn’t that a big step toward being indispensable?

The lines continue to get blurred in the advertising industry as well as many others.  But I pose the following:  Instead of fearing what could happen or trying to frantically get ahead of the curve, why not embrace it?  This could be an opportunity to stand out.  If people are crystal clear about who you are, how you think and what you create, does it really matter how the organizational or industry lines get blurred?   You’ll be the one of the folks standing out amidst the fog surrounded by other brilliant thinkers.

What can you do today to differentiate who you are?

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