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Unlock Resources by Understanding the 3 Leadership Mindsets

November 28, 2022
Taryn Tennant
Unlock Resources by Understanding the 3 Leadership Mindsets
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

Each week we go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. We share tactics, trends and valuable resources we've observed in the world of community building.

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“How can we show impact and secure more resources for our team?” 

Attend any DevRel or Community conference and you’ll definitely hear discussions along these lines. Driving community-led impact is an issue all leaders in the space are thinking about, and the ability to gain and grow budgets is closely related. 

I’ve worked as a leader and exec in companies large and small, as a team of one to teams with hundreds. Across all those experiences, I’ve found that driving and demonstrating impact is essential to growing my teams’ budgets, but almost as important is understanding my boss’ mindset. That’s because understanding how they think about the business will help you know how to communicate most effectively. 

Across all the leaders I’ve worked for, I’ve identified three mindsets that will help you understand the kind of person you’re working for, what motivates them, and how to communicate your impact and vision in the most effective way. My experience is primarily in people and operations, but I’ve seen these three mindsets play out across every function and team size. 

The three mindsets are The Believer, The Skeptic, and The Follower, and we’ll explore each below. 

One note about each of the three mindsets, they are neither absolute nor permanent. You may find that with one area of the business your leadership demonstrates all the signs of the Believer mindset, while with another area of the business they demonstrate the Skeptic mindset. Additionally, whatever their mindset is, it can change over time. 

Leadership Mindsets at a Glance

Mindset Characteristics Actions You Can Take
The Believer • Instinctively trusts the impact of your role
• Sees business impact in experiences and anecdotes
• Understands the fuzziness and difficulty in proving correlation for actions related to the longer term impacts
• Tends to approve resources where budget is available
• Highlight actions and task completion
• Present target audience / customer feedback, stories, and anecdotes
• Incorporate quantitative frequency, percentage data on role / department activities
• Prepare your data capabilities to show correlation in the future
How Orbit Can Support You
• Single view
• Activities & Notes
The Skeptic • Not convinced of the role’s business value
• Requires data with direct links to business goals and KPIs
• Seeks to understand the amount of impact on business goals coming from all the possible actions (what % of adoption increases can you credit to your actions?)
• Approves resources only after convinced of business impact
• Prepare for the long-game, set-up reporting now to show how actions last year have led to impacts this quarter
• Once you are ready, lean heavily on quantitative data demonstrating correlation to business goals & KPIs
• Use storytelling to present your quantitative data - don’t rely on charts to tell your story
• While you wait on the long-game, be open to alternative methods for securing resources (temp/part-time)
• Report wins often
How Orbit Can Support You
• Integrations & API > Data
• Hubspot integration
• Shared dashboards
The Follower • Unclear on the role’s value
• Neither anecdotes or data would act as proof due to lack of clarity of internal need
• Approves and pushes for resources if other companies like theirs have the roles
• Seek understanding of the business needs
• Get clear on desired outcomes
• Document and align goals for role
• Slow down hiring where goals and outcomes are not clear

Leadership Mindset #1: The Believer

My first leadership role was at a company whose CEO had a Believer mindset. He had absolute faith in the value of my team and the impact on the business. When we asked for resources, we generally got them. We weren’t over-resourced in any way, but we didn’t spend months gathering data or continuously work to the brink of burn out to prove why and when we needed additional resources. 

Believers don’t rely exclusively on hard numbers and statistical correlations. Their support is strengthened through feedback, experiences, and anecdotes. Believers want to see actions are being taken, lessons are being learned, and that the goals set are being achieved (this holds true for all mindsets). The key difference can be found in the substance of the goals they approve. 

Believers understand that actions taken today may not have an impact on business goals for many months or even longer - and they are ready to play the long-game. They do not require you to tease out what percent improvement your actions can be credited with, even when business impacts can be measured and correlated. 

This is generally the easiest mindset to secure support for additional resources, but your approach still needs to fit the mindset. 

How to Secure Resources with The Believer Leadership Mindset: 

  • Collect feedback, stories, and anecdotes that result from your actions. You can start to build out some quantitative capabilities through simple trend analyses and descriptive statistics (bar charts etc.)
  • Highlight stories and comments you glean from events, surveys, polling, forums and other social media properties that demonstrate the impact your role / team is having on the company. 
  • Be cautious not to rely on The Believer’s support. Proof will always make you stronger and enable a deeper understanding of the impact you and your team have on the company. It’s best to prepare for a time when you can show correlation with your team’s actions and the business goals. 

Orbit makes it easy to view both qualitative and quantitative data from multiple platforms all in one place. 

You and your team members can document conversations and notes directly from your Member’s profile, enabling easy retrieval of qualitative data. 

Using Tags you can easily retrieve pull reports on members who engaged with marketing materials, signed up for your product or helped to answer another member’s product question.  

Leadership Mindset #2: The Skeptic

My next role was a different story altogether. I was now the head of the department and given the responsibility and opportunity to influence the size of my team. I didn’t have absolute authority over adding resources, rather, I had to prove the need and my prior Believer CEO didn’t prepare me for my new CEO who clearly had a Skeptic mindset when it came to my department. 

Skeptics require proof of your value to the organization. They might have complete trust in your intrinsic value, but they want to see the data on how you are impacting business outcomes. Stories, feedback, and internal goal completion is not going to be enough for this mindset to write the check for additional resources. 

I like to think of this mindset as a jury of my peers. You have to present evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the value your role or department brings. You must get your data chops in order for this mindset, specifically data showing the correlation between your actions and the company’s goals, KPIs, and initiatives will be key. 

This may be the hardest mindset to secure resources from, but in the end they will push you to grow your business understanding and data skills. The work you do to collect, analyze, and promote your evidence will make you stronger and your resume crazy impressive. 

How to Secure Resources with The Skeptic Leadership Mindset: 

  • Start by seeking to understand what evidence your leaders want to see and the business impacts most important to them. 
  • Prepare for the long-term when it comes to collecting and analyzing data for this mindset.
    • Determine how to collect and organize the data you need. This might mean additional software, automations, or increased skills with tools already in place. 
    • Once you have some data - begin to analyze using frequency or counts (bar charts) and then look to build out some simple descriptive statistics such as cohort percentage, standard deviation, mean etc. 
    • Build out your models to demonstrate the link between your actions and the business goals (correlation and regression).
    • Make friends with your internal finance & data analysts and data scientists who are experts at telling a story with quantitative data.
  • Be sure to report your business outcome wins often. 
  • If you are approaching burnout (or maybe you are already there), seek to get approval for lower resource commitments such as a temporary contractor, part-time employee, consultant, agency, etc. 

Orbit’s long and growing list of native integrations and robust API enables you to pull quantitative data from all the places your community activities happen. 

You can easily share that data with your Sales, Marketing & Product teams right from your Orbit workspace. 

Orbit’s dashboards allow you to share meaningful and timely quantitative data with your leaders. 

Leadership Mindset #3: The Follower

The third leadership mindset isn’t one I have experienced for the people department directly, but I have certainly seen this mindset come into play when recruiting for certain roles. 

An example of this is the first time I recruited for a data scientist (keep in mind this was well over a decade ago). I had never heard of this role and so I got to work asking our CEO my usual questions - Why does the company need this position? What will they do? How will their work impact the company? Etc. I was surprised to hear something to the effect of “I see other companies in our space have this role, so we should too.” I didn’t know it then, but this is the Follower mindset. 

This mindset is both easy and difficult. 

It may be easy to get approval for resources if other companies in your space have this role, however, the lack of understanding of what outcomes the leader is looking for can lead to challenges down the road including misaligned priorities and goals. These misalignments can result in frustrations by both your leadership and those in the role - and ultimately turnover. 

How to Secure or Stop the Hiring of Resources with The Follower Leadership Mindset: 

  • Seek to get a strong understanding and alignment on what the objectives are for the role. 
  • Be clear on outcomes the role will be expected to deliver internally and align those with the skills of the individual you bring on board. 
  • Document the goals clearly for both your leaders and the individual(s) in the role. 
  • If you aren’t aligned with your leaders on what this role needs to deliver, slow down the hiring as much as possible until you get there.   

Getting to Resource Nirvana

Leadership mindset can have a significant impact on what you measure, when you measure, and most critically, your ability to achieve resource nirvana. Understanding your leaderships’ goals and aligning your measures to those goals will put you in a strong position to get there. Having the right tools to collect and share the right data at the right time is a key component.

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