In Marketing and Leadership, It’s All About Perspective

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

“At the end of the kaleidoscope the pixels are all the same, but look inside, give it a little twist, and suddenly you’ll see things differently.” – Punam Mathur

When it comes to marketing and leadership, having perspective is critical. Since both disciplines are about connecting with people and guiding behavior, it is essential that we are aware of our perspectives and what shaped our thought process. We also must be aware that the people we are leading think differently than us and we can’t lose sight of their point of view. By having this awareness, we are creating the ability to look at things from different perspectives with an open mind.

Even with awareness, it is easy to get caught up in making decisions quickly, favoring our preferences, or relying on our gut instinct. In both marketing and leadership, it is biases and heuristics that are used to solve a problem or develop the vision. A heuristic is “mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently,” and they can lead to cognitive bias. Using heuristics and biases is a human process, but one that must not be left unchecked.  

Marketing and leadership’s purpose centers on others, therefore we have to think about others first, which includes understanding their perspectives and points of view. Here are the heuristics and biases you should watch out for the next time you are working on a marketing campaign or leading a team through change.

  • Availability: As humans, we will use the information that we can easy retrieve and recall. For example, we may only recall the good work our employee has done since it helped us so much, and we will won’t recall the times they let us down or when their weaknesses overpowered their strengths.
  • Representativeness: “When people rely on representativeness to make judgments, they are likely to judge wrongly because the fact that something is more representative does not actually make it more likely,” Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. In both leadership and marketing, we may listen to the loudest voices, but in reality, it might not be representing the majority.  
  • Confirmation: According to Scott Plous, confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. If we fall into the confirmation trap, we could continue to do the same things over and over without questioning their effectiveness or to justify a certain decision because it aligns with our preferences or preconceived notions.

The other thing marketers and leaders must be aware of is cognitive dissonance. It is defined as, “Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors,” Saul McLeod. Leaders and marketers must be aware of cognitive dissonance as it could lead to integrity issues and the erosion of trust for either our customers or employees.

Each of these heuristics that lead to biases, and cognitive dissonance are dangerous for marketers and leaders. The best way to overcome them is to practice awareness by questioning your critical thinking process, doing your own research, and evaluating your behavior. Once you’ve gathered the necessary data points (without allowing bias to creep in), it is critical you think about the other person effected by your potential decision or tactic.

  • What could their biases and heuristics be?
  • How is it effecting their decision making and behavior? I
  • If they are displaying conflicting behavior, what could be causing it?

If you take the time to think about others and their perspectives, you’ll be able to find the best way to lead and market to them. Doing so requires personal accountability and doing things that don’t always come naturally, but with a self-awareness and intentional action, you’ll be able to overcome the shortcuts that hinder your effectiveness. Once you put others first, and view things through the lens of a kaleidoscope, thinking differently will become second nature.

How do you practice awareness to ensure you looking at things from different perspectives? Start the discussion in the comments section.

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