Lessons from 360i’s Marketing Leadership Summit: Positional Power

September 22, 2016

360i’s annual Summit is not only a fantastic place for marketers to exchange ideas and learn from each other, but also an opportunity to be inspired. During this year’s Summit, the audience heard from industry leaders about leveraging the power of your personality and knowledge, but some of the most inspiring moments came from stories around positional power.

Positional power:
leveraging the authority and influence you have from your professional title to do more.

Mitchell Kurz and Edward Tom from the Bronx Center for Science & Mathematics shared their story of transitioning  and adapting their careers from the comfortable corporate world of advertising and luxury retail to the streets of the poorest congressional district in the United States.

Recognizing that their career achievements to date had put them in a position to do more, they’ve set on a mission to bring STEM education to the kids of South Bronx. Being in charge of shaping lives, they reiterated that there was no room for failure. During the session they explained that they didn’t want to start just another school, rather they chose to leverage their past experiences, skills and content power to re-imagine education for lower income students and transform teachers into educators.

Building on this idea of harnessing positional power, Will Guidara, restaurateur and owner of Eleven Madison Park, explained how he chose to disrupt the restaurant industry and create a new kind of establishment. Rather than continuing his successful career in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Guidara’s ascendance to the top of the high-end dining world involved breaking the mold of how restaurants should operate.

Together with his partner, world-famous chef Daniel Humm, they decided to use their positional power within the food and dining industry to create a completely new kind of restaurant. They envisioned a restaurant in which the kitchen and dining room staff worked in concert rather than in silos, ruled by one, and where reinvention is built into the restaurant’s DNA. Guidara emphasized the importance of hiring people who care and have passion for their work, while encouraging individuality and letting them be themselves. One of his guiding principles is empathy, not sympathy, which he ensures is felt throughout the organization. Every employee at Eleven Madison Park starts as a runner and gradually advances upwards in order to gain understanding and feel for every level the operation.

Carrying the badge of World’s No.3 Best Restaurant, Eleven Madison Park remains the mover and shaker in the industry and an example of how leaders can positively utilize their position to influence every aspect of the organization and institute an greater internal understanding of positional power.

To wrap up the day ESPN’s Herm Edwards energized the crowd with an inspiring pep talk about flipping the script on what means to be a leader. Drawing from his own experience as an ESPN analyst, former NFL coach and former NFL player, he made everyone in the room see leadership in a new light. For Herm, leadership means using your positional power to serve others, rather than being served. He firmly believes that leading by example and fostering an environment in which those in your organization can grow and work together is the best use of positional power and leadership. This means sometimes entrusting your team with the decision making. Even if that leads to mistakes, doing so will build trust and cultivate positive relationships internally.

Throughout the day, all the summit speakers agreed on one thing. It’s not about how much power you have, it’s what you do with it. Positional power can translate into the strength to re-evaluate your company’s path, re-invent what leadership looks like and re-imagine the fundamentals of your industry.