10,000 hours later - Mia shares her perspective on leadership and the learnings she has encountered in her journey
Mia started her leadership journey when she was 15 years old, working in after-school jobs. Since then, she has gained experience across diverse managerial roles in many different industries. Mia is a part of our executive team at Funnel, working as the chief customer officer, leading and managing our customer experience teams.
We’ll explore what Mia believes are important leadership attributes and dive into some of the challenges and learnings she has encountered throughout her journey.
In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of leadership?
I strongly believe that a leadership role should not be seen as only a career move, but more of a genuine interest in people and a responsibility to drive the business. I believe in enabling strong, self-driven teams that take responsibility all the way. To accomplish that, I believe that the most important aspects for a leader are to work with value-driven leadership, to set clear expectations and direction, to remove show stoppers, to create an allowing culture with open communication, and to lead with empathy.
As a leader, you are a role model to the entire organization – not just your team.. You should incorporate the company values in your team’s working environment, lead by them, and make sure to live up to them yourself. You should aim to challenge the wrong behaviors while encouraging the right behaviors.
Clear expectations and direction
You need to have a helicopter view and see the big picture in order to support the business. And you need to land in the details to understand the individual impact and change management needs. To set clear expectations and direction, you need to break down the strategy into a hypothetical plan together with your team, and then, into goals – both for the team and for the individual. Having clear expectations and direction is something that can greatly reduce stress and uncertainty while motivating and engaging.
Leading with empathy
This means that you dare to have real conversations. You are meeting the individual, discerning their expectations, and clearly communicating your expectations of them.
By listening, asking questions, giving feedback, and sometimes challenging your team, you can build trust and an open culture. Not only does this foster a productive environment where people like to work, but it also enables high-performing individuals and teams. Furthermore, to be a good leader, I think you need to be genuinely interested in growing people and letting them be the stars.
What challenges have you faced in your leadership journey, and how have you overcome them?
There are many. But a common mistake many new leaders make, and I have made myself too, is to underestimate the need for communication and clarity. When you think everybody is on board and aware, you need to communicate again and again. Then, you ask and reassure that people are aware and on board. When you have done so, you need to be available for questions and input.
Another challenge that I think is common: managing change in difficult times, in recession, or in times when you have to pivot the organization in focus, revenue, operational efficiency, or profitability. These are demands that come from your owners or are simply new market conditions. In these times, you may have to make difficult decisions, remove roles, or change how you work. It can be difficult to manage communication if you do not have the full story behind some decisions, but you still have to stand up for them. There are different ways to work through this, but again, communication is key in my experience. Listen, ask, learn, and confirm.
What leadership attributes and skills do you believe are important to thrive as a manager at Funnel?
I believe that good leadership is generic and works in most businesses. For me, the most important thing is the ability to grow people, challenge them, and show appreciation. As a leader, you need to recognize the individual contribution and help showcase the results. Furthermore, there is honesty and trust. You also need to address potential performance issues. It is as important to be able to indicate when something is wrong, as it is when something is right.
At Funnel specifically, I think it is super important to be a leader who can abdicate and let the teams be the superstars. You should enable the teams to succeed and lift them and their effort up, not yourself.
Have you taken inspiration from any role models or leadership models?
I have many different ones for different things. Some examples are:
Our CEO Fredrik, inspires me to always answer, “That is a very good question.” I think that it shows that he always takes the person seriously, which I think is very important.
I have had other leaders in the past who have inspired me to fully take responsibility. This means acting now (rather than later) and daring to have that conversation.
Thank you so much Mia for your valuable input and honest answers. Do you have anything to add?
You need to take leadership seriously. We have all heard that, to master something, you need to practice for 10,000 hours. You need to remain humble and understand that leadership is not easy. I believe in having mentors and learning from others. I also believe that all experiences are good, even the bad ones because you can learn something from it and put it in your backpack of experience. Last of all, we need to remember that we are all just humans.
Further interested in leadership at Funnel? Read more blog posts about leadership with Pearce or Carmen.
Funnel is a SaaS product designed to help marketing teams own their performance. Founded in 2014 in Stockholm, and still founder-led, the Funnel team has grown with our customers – serving more than 2,000 companies from our Stockholm, Boston, Dublin, and Sydney offices. We value increased in-person collaboration, and as such, we work a minimum of three days a week from our offices.
We have always put the customer first, expressed in a no-commission sales model and a customer-centric development approach. We are proud to help companies such as Havas Media, Adidas, Sony, and Home Depot to unlock the true impact of their data.
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