Winning With Grace

Episode 49: Winning With Grace

One of the most satisfying elements of work as a digital strategist is the moment of victory. That moment when you hear that you’ve been selected, when your idea is to be implemented, or the recommendations you made turned performance around are the things we work for. But we have to learn how to take these victories in stride, to channel our emotions appropriately, and to win with grace.

I recognize that the last few episodes have been somewhat downbeat, with discussion on what to do when you get fired, or the pain of the work, but these are anomalies. If you are good at what you do, the victories will be more numerous than the losses. How you handle victory is just as important as how you handle loss.

What constitutes victory? In the role of the digital strategist, it can be everything from the front end sale, through to the successful implementation of an idea or an achievement of an objective. Victory is not only financial – you are not a salesperson. As a strategist, you have a responsibility to the delivery of the work, since you are the one that looked the client in the eye and said that we can achieve their objectives. In other words, there are hundreds of micro-wins along the way, and they belong collectively to a large group of people from different disciplines.

This is why the way you handle yourself in victory matters so much. You have to understand that you did not win by yourself; you collectively won together. Never lose sight of this fact. On the front end there are sales people and account teams that helped bring in the business. On the back end there is a team of subject matter experts who delivered based on your recommendations. Losing sight of this fact and celebrating victories as singular, personal achievements breeds resentment. It makes it much harder to rally the troops next time. And it is just unfair.

Winning with grace is about remembering this fact, it’s about empowering those around you to help you achieve your objectives, and it’s about recognizing the truth, that success in digital marketing is a team effort.

But it is also about something else, namely preparing for the obstacles that arise after the victory. Not everything is going to work, so celebrating too much when you do win invites plunging into despair with every setback. This is what happens to sales people. As the strategist you have a broader perspective. You look out across the industry, across functions, and across your client base. This gives you a special responsibility to set the tone. The strategist needs to stay outwardly emotionally level because they set the tone for how everyone else should respond. After all, if the strategist is freaking out, then that gives everyone permission to.

You can’t just switch off your emotions. It takes practice to stay emotionally level in an agency environment with all the twists and turns that come with the territory. And that is why it is important to win with grace. Because by doing so, you will be ready for when the obstacles show themselves.

Next week on octopus, we will continue to explore the role of the digital strategist. Please be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Please subscribe for alerts about new episodes and content. Thank you for listening to octopus. I’m Nasser Sahlool.

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