If you’re in tech and have been on the Internet this week, you probably know that INBOUND has been going on.

I had the chance to speak on a panel on the Hero Stage with Brendan Tolleson, the Co-Founder and CEO of RevPartners and Michelle Benfer, SVP of Sales for the Americas at HubSpot.

A few things I shared:

Meet the moment: there’s been a ton of change the last few years. After a global pandemic upended the buying, selling, leading and living conditions for all of us, we’ve been through a year of a ton of growth … and then uncertainty. Missed quotas for some. Hiring slowdowns, retooling for others. All in all, change has been the constant. And those leaders that recognize it, and not shying away from it, are doing the hard work of providing a weather vane for their teams.

Actively Lead: you’re your team’s go-to pace setter, culture cornerstone and who they look to when they’re trying to formulate a response to news, changes or uncertainty. If you’re waiting in the wings for someone to step up, you’re missing your cue. A few tips:

  • Lead objectively – check your biases and lead with facts
  • Listen to understand – pause to really hear your team on what they’re responding or reacting to. Don’t assume you know. Because you likely are getting the downstream feedback from root cause uncertainty or panic
  • Accept feelings – similar to listening, you need to be the one that recognizes that folks have reactions and feelings about change in their lives. Don’t fight it. For them or yourself.
  • Know the why – and use it to ground yourself. Without your own “why” driving the hard work, passion and grit that it takes to make the hard decisions and lead through uncertainty … you’ll get lost.

The most common leadership mistakes are in the soft skills: leaders who aren’t present or lead reactively can fall into the trap of taking on too much, losing sight of objectivity or becoming emotionally overloaded.

And leaders who hide behind the numbers can find themselves leading from a place of fear, under-communicate or leave space for others or their team to lead the narrative.

Know thyself. Your strengths, your pitfalls and your why’s. And know that the way you show up for your team is as important as what you say.

I’ve written about this in more depth in the past, if you want to go deeper.

My esteemed panelists also shared their leadership stories, and as to be expected with a stacked stage, I learned a ton, too.

Leaders need to be comfortable being uncomfortable

Brendan Tolleson dug into how leaders can be true change agents. And some lessons from his own experience of learning to embrace discomfort as the only real way for professional growth and excelling as a leader:

  • Always thinking proactively: especially in an asynchronous, distributed environment … reactivity is hiding. Be proactive about addressing challenges, celebrating wins and setting the tone.
  • Clarity – define the win. Set the goalposts for what success looks like. Communicate them early and often. And bring it back to what you set out to achieve when reflecting on what’s working, what’s not and why.
  • Find ways to create safety and security for your team, and you’ll go further. Teams that embrace accountability and proactively provide feedback are the ones that feel safe and included in the vision. And they are the ones that will strive, that will not only tolerate change but fellow change agents. The culture you set matters more than you know.

So many leadership lessons and applications. And an all-around great time sharing the stage with these folks.

If you were at INBOUND – what are your takeaways?

Or what would you add to this list for effective leadership?