Leadership: Are You Inbound or Outbound?

In the fast paced world of Internet marketing, there are two distinctly different approaches. There is inbound and outbound. Management and leadership has these same two dimensions.

Outbound marketing is the traditional approach we all know where companies try to push their message, putting up posters, banners, signage, sending phone messages/dialers, and very forward efforts to get your attention. The end game is the hope you buy something.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is the more subtle and gentler approach. The provider offers valuable information about a good, service, or topic. This information is something the prospective buyer can consume for free. There may be a voluntary exchange of contact information to receive the information (think ebook or survey result). The buyer’s willingness to give up that contact info is more than offset by the value of the content they receive.

As I was dealing with my own marketing service providers, I was struck by the idea that management and leadership has this same inbound/outbound conundrum.

When you assume a leadership role, you have to choose. Will my approach be inbound or outbound? Here are a few indicators of each style.

Outbound Management Style

  • Giving directives
  • My way or the highway mindset
  • Closed door environment where employees are not welcome
  • The workplace has a feel of autocratic rule with no regard for what the employees think
  • “I’m the boss, they better pay attention”

Managing Up the Organization

Inbound Leadership Style

  • Nurturing trust relationships with the team
  • Employee environment of permission and protection – freedom to do the work and knowledge that the boss has my back
  • Open communication
  • Servant heart for leadership
  • Freely given recognition for a job well done

Clearly it is safe to say the outbound style is a tradition of management, Theory X approach, taught and followed for decades. Just like outbound marketing, outbound leadership is the approach used by far too many. The tide is shifting. Outbound leadership isn’t really leadership at all. It embodies the core of management, but not leadership. Outbound will get things done for some period of time, but at what cost?

Employee engagement will not be very good under outbound domination at the hand of the boss. Instead, the inbound style is far more likely to draw workers in, inspiring them to perform rather than beating them down to get something done.

The workplace has a long way to go to embrace the inbound leadership style. As I write this, I can almost hear the eyeballs rolling in people’s heads.

New, emerging business leaders must entertain the move to inbound leadership. The growing number of younger workers demand it. Inbound is the way they now live. Forcing them to live one way, then shift to the old outbound management style at work will not do much for your talent retention.

[reminder]What are the ways you operate as an inbound leader?[/reminder]

To dig deeper on your own leadership style, call me for a free consultation.

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