8+ Secrets to Great Leadership

Lori Stutsman By Lori Stutsman, President & Chief Customer Service Officer, Extra Mile Marketing

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Extra Mile Marketing · Leadership Secrets with Lori Stutsman

This coming March, Extra Mile Marketing will be celebrating 20 years of brainstorms, campaigns, events, content development and collaboration.  I can’t believe it. I don’t know if the time went by fast or slow – it all depends on my mood and how I look back upon the last 20 years. 

The company started with a simple idea: build an environment where I wanted to work. 

Of course, I also wanted an environment where my team members wanted to work.  I knew it could be done.  During my tenure at a Fortune 100 company, I was very lucky to have bosses who believed in me and granted me free reign in building and developing an impressive marketing team. But now, I had to do it on my own, without big corporate backing and without big corporate money behind me. 

My success in starting an innovative marketing agency on my own terms would come down to my leadership abilities. For those new to leadership, and even our readers who have been leaders for years, I’ve compiled 8 lessons, or tenants, of good leadership that I have learned over the course of my career. Some of these “secrets” were hard won in fast-paced corporate environments where politics and career advancement reign supreme; others, I could only learn as a small business owner with the responsibility of supporting committed employees at diverse stages in their lives. Which of these lessons resonate with you?

1. I don’t know everything AND I don’t know what I don’t know. This is such an important part of good leadership. Look for people that are smarter than you in specific areas. You will grow with their knowledge and you will build a stronger team.

2. My job is to give team members the tools and support they need to get their job done and then get the hell out of their way. I need to do whatever it takes to help them become successful.  Sometimes what the team needs is to have someone empty the dishwasher. Guess what my job is that day?

3. Set obtainable goals that will give your employees a feeling of success. Celebrate wins. I don’t care how often you celebrate them; you can always celebrate more. Each team member needs to feel appreciated: by you, by your clients, and by their colleagues. 

4.Don’t get caught up in the minutia. It’s so easy to let yourself jump in and try to solve problems between employees and with clients. Remind yourself not to react too quickly to internal issues. Let teammates work it out. That said, there’s a difference between a controlled burn and a wildfire. React reasonably quickly when it’s a client issue; those tend to only get worse!

5. Set a balanced example. Stay level-headed but don’t be afraid to show that you are a real person. While working at big corporation, I found myself acting aloof – and I am not an aloof person. I thought I needed to be a soldier, staying focused only on the work. Now, I know that being a good leader means sharing of yourself, so others will feel comfortable sharing with you.

6. Do what’s right. Ethics and honesty matter. If you lead with integrity, it will come back to you ten-fold.  In the long-run, it’s the cheaters that get cheated.

7. It’s not fatal. Take a long-range view of things. Let’s face it – we are a marketing company; we’re not curing cancer. And remember the famous Tom Hanks quote, “There’s no crying in business.”

8. Happiness is a choice. You can’t always change the challenges you face, but you can change your perspective. I’m not talking sunshine and rainbows. Rather, think of each challenge as a new adventure – something to learn from.  If you can stay positive, you will keep your team positive and you can conquer anything. How do you eat an elephant?....

Plus One: My final secret is to BREATHE.  Most of the stress in our lives is exacerbated when we don’t take the time to breathe.  As my brother, Dr. Jim Glantz, would tell you, great leaders learn to breathe and teach others to breathe.  Take a walk. Pet a dog. Smile at a stranger. Sing in your car.  Create your own white space and remember to breathe.


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