The Drift

The Drift

Ecosystem Leadership

There is no longer any such thing as an individual contributor.

Your team no longer belongs to you. They – and you – are part of a network… an ecosystem. And that ecosystem includes many people who in no way report to you; those in other departments, vendors, research and technology partners and even customers.

To those who still think their jobs are to manage the performance of individuals one-at-a-time, the concept may seem rather shocking. But the great managers of our era have already evolved. Let me explain.

  • An extended web of people who collaborate with and depend on each other are an ecosystem. You are a leader in this ecosystem, not the leader.
  • The ecosystem can only be as productive, creative and resilient as its health and connectivity allow.
  • Empathy is the oxygen of your ecosystem. It sustains people and relationships and also acts as fuel for the fires of creativity, production and perseverance.

Thinking and behaving according to these ideas, leaders find themselves constantly referencing a very short list of recurring questions:

  • Will this action or change create greater connectivity and empowerment in our ecosystem?
  • Will the ecosystem be made stronger or weaker if we do this?
  • Have we done all we can to understand others in the ecosystem in order to make the best decision?

At first, you’ll be the one asking these questions. Then you’ll teach them to others. Then everyone is asking them… slowing down your cycle of instant tactical responses to allow for exchanges that empower and connect… that improve the long-term process, not just the immediate product.

It’s deceptively simple. It scales. It applies the smallest pods and the largest organizations.

It works. It starts with a leader. It starts with you.

I take great pride in our team and how we've adapted to serve our customers through the pandemic and into the future. If you want to have a conversation about what can be done to empower and equip your team for the next chapter of your story, please reach out.  And thanks for reading The Drift.

More Posts

Don't Speak!

Quiet down now. Don't speak, just for a little bit. Let the moment marinate. Most of us in sales are running over-programmed sales calls in which every pause, every quiet second, is something to be filled…


You're used to the loud ones. The sellers and others in your org who complain - about systems, sales goals, products - are the least of your worries as a manager. Because they are up in your grill about…

Team You.

Last week I posted some ideas about how to shake off the torpor and malaise of Q1-2019 in the digital ad/marketing business. Today I'm speaking to managers and sales leaders. This is a moment where you…

Shake it Off!

Snap out of it! Yeah... you know who I'm talking to: You there in the Slanket about to launch your Netflix queue. Like many others in the digital ad business, Q1 2019 has been a hazy sleepwalk of stalled…

MVP 3.0

Who's the MVP on your sales team? And more importantly, why? Through Upstream Group, I've gotten to work with thousands of digital sellers and managers over the past 21 years. And I can guess why your…

The Sale You Save.

Among the sales teams I work with, the list of symptoms is remarkably consistent: long, unstable sales cycles; buyers going radio silent after receiving proposals; small deal sizes; low close rates; too…

The First Thing You Say.

Two weeks ago in this space I wrote about the general malaise and episodic funk that many in our industry seem to be suffering under. (The New Normal, February 7, 2019.) As a manager, I believe one of…

Tear Down This Wall!

At yesterday's IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, Chairman/CEO Randall Rothenberg doubled down (again) on the direct brand economy and how it's flipping marketing models and gutting sacred cows…

The New Normal?

Understanding our business by following the recent headlines about digital publishers is like learning civics by binge-watching cable news. Yes, there are real issues and struggles. But there is also a…

You, But Strategic.

Somewhere out there this morning, a seller has already been awake for hours. She's staring at a number - her sales goal for the next several months. Her company has a solid product, not a dominant one. Her…

Own It.

Whether you sell digital media advertising, online marketing programs, multichannel marketing or a sophisticated ad tech solution, one thing's for sure: there's not an action, a word or a minute to waste.…

Face to Face, 2.0.

Sellers in our industry are tasked with explaining detailed technology, benefits and programs, and subsequently persuading the customer to act. Each believes that -- if only I could get the meeting! -…