Last week, the Insights Association hosted The Leadership Event, a rare opportunity to learn from and alongside fellow insights leaders from small, medium, and large agencies to share common challenges and opportunities. This event offered essential learnings that are intended to prepare attendees for the next level of leadership including both hard and soft skills. Through these sessions, participants were able to elevate their knowledge and expand out of their comfort zone into areas such as leading an effective team, strategic planning, technology, GTM strategies, managing a P&L, advocating for optimal employee experience, mastering “One-Page Strategies,” leading with empathy, combating burnout, and much more.
Here are the key themes and takeaways from the event:
Leading an Effective Team
- Leading with trust. Susan Vogel, Founder & Principal of SB Vogel Consulting LLC, presented on leading a high-functioning and effective team. Share shared how making an active effort to gain the trust of your staff is crucial for achieving team goals together and fostering a high-performing team that wins together. True trust creates a culture of accountability, honesty, respect, vulnerability, and psychological safety, boosting productivity and morale while encouraging innovation. To achieve trust, leaders must exemplify compassion, stability, and hope in order to build loyalty and followership.
- The three C’s of High-Functioning Teams. Cohesion, Collaboration, and Confrontation must all be considered with leading strategic teams to ensure strong and sustainable dynamics among all members.
- Self-awareness. Being aware of how you show up every day helps leaders better handle emotions, such as fear or anger, effectively while uncovering blind spots to create an authentic and powerful leadership presence.
- Always roll with the punches. Assessing the team’s ever-evolving dynamics, embracing change with a positive mindset, understanding its impact, and recognizing new opportunities are essential for ensuring unity and alignment in a successful team to grow and stay strong.
When innovating, ask yourself: Build, Partner, or Buy? In the session “A Moderated Discussion on Leveraging Technology to Drive Margin,” our very own Alex Baranpuria alongside Isaac Rogers, (Moderator), Jay Tye (EchoMR), and Kristi Zuhlke (KnowledgeHound) discussed how strategic planning involves deciding whether to Buy, Build, or Partner, considering the organization’s core assets and focus. If an organization’s superpower lies in its vast data and expertise in a particular area, building its own analysis software to best work cohesively with existing offerings will be most effective in driving competitiveness.
However, when there are capabilities in demand, and go beyond internal expertise, strategic partnerships can bridge the gap and allow the organization to offer those services while focusing on other core competencies. For specialized capabilities like moderation or complex quantitative research, partnering with external experts might be more practical than attempting internal development.
Alternatively, Buying, whether through acquisitions or more formal partnerships, can be suitable for obtaining the desired technology or expertise and absorbing the resources under one umbrella. Careful assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and long-term objectives will lead to informed decisions and pave the way for successful operations in a dynamic business landscape.
In the same session “A Moderated Discussion on Leveraging Technology to Drive Margin,” the experts discussed how teams can reap many benefits from integrating technology into their workflows effectively. Repetitive, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks must be recognized and can be significantly improved through technological upgrades.
Conduct an audit. To start, teams should conduct a thorough audit of their existing processes, mapping out each step to identify inefficiencies, redundancies, and bottlenecks. Seek input from staff members directly involved in the processes to gain insights into the areas that require improvement. Identifying common pain points helps prioritize the areas where technology can make a substantial impact on operational efficiency.
According to Gartner’s IT Budget research across various industries, companies generally allocate between 2% and 4% of their total revenue for IT expenditures, and this has remained consistent. These budgets are typically invested in several key areas: invested in several key areas:
- Process Automation: Automating manual and repetitive tasks significantly improves efficiency and reduces costs.
- Example: By implementing process automation, market research streamlined its data collection and analysis, significantly boosting efficiency and reducing errors. This led to faster report generation and improved client satisfaction, while also cutting operational costs.
- Data Management and Analytics: Data collection, storage, and analysis enhance decision-making and streamline operations.
- Example: Companies are increasingly investing in data management and analytics solutions to gain actionable insights from their vast data repositories, driving informed decision-making and enhanced operational efficiency across industries.
- Cloud Computing: Migrating to cloud-based systems reduces IT infrastructure costs and complexity, boosting operational efficiency.
- Example: By leveraging the scalability and accessibility of cloud platforms, firms can enhance their research capabilities, adapt to changing demands, and provide more timely and accurate recommendations to their clients.
- Collaboration Tools: Software that facilitates collaboration enhances the efficiency of team-based work.
- Example: In market research, a design agency’s adoption of a project management tool fuels efficient collaboration among designers, writers, and clients, ultimately accelerating project timelines and elevating client contentment.
- Training: Investing in employee training helps them maximize productivity and efficiency with IT tools.
- Example: Market research can enhance training programs by providing insights into target audiences’ preferences, learning styles, and needs. This data-driven approach enables the design of more tailored and effective training content, ensuring optimal engagement, knowledge retention, and skill development among participants.
- Cybersecurity: Though not directly linked to operational efficiency, investing in cybersecurity prevents costly and disruptive security breaches, safeguarding the team’s productivity and operations.
- Example: Market research empowers cybersecurity firms to preemptively address emerging threats and user anxieties, resulting in advanced solutions and more effective communication. This approach boosts product credibility and user confidence in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
In today’s complex business landscape, leaders are expected to balance multifaceted responsibilities. The essence of servant leadership and a constant drive for improvement remain pivotal. At The Leadership Event, the emphasis lay on cultivating trust, honesty, respect, and vulnerability to nurture high-performing teams. Strategic decisions gain significance with the Buy, Build, or Partner approach, dictating effective technology adoption for growth. Leveraging technology—from automation and data management to cloud computing and cybersecurity—drives operational efficiency. By strategically choosing technology investments and focusing on core strengths, leaders can propel their teams toward enduring success in a dynamic business world.
About InnovateMR – InnovateMR is a full-service sampling and ResTech company that delivers faster, quality insights from business and consumer audiences utilizing cutting-edge technologies to support agile research. As industry pioneers, InnovateMR provides world-class end-to-end survey programming, targeted international sampling, qualitative and quantitative insights, and customized consultation services to support informed, data-driven strategies, and identify growth opportunities. Known for their celebrated status in customer service and results, InnovateMR combines boutique-level service with extensive global reach to achieve partner success.