Empathy: This key leadership trait is a part of our emotional intelligence and is another way we can imrpove the workplace, cultivate the work culture we desire, and build an amazing team and business together. As it turns out, I’m an empath and this trait comes pretty naturally to me. I care deeply for my team, my clients, my family, and my friends. I want the best for everyone and I’ll do everything in my power to help make the world better for all of us.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Cutter.

The President and founder of Vertical Insight Marketing, Lisa Cutter is committed to providing clients with real insights and real results. As a 24-year marketing expert and current Digital Marketing Adjunct Instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Lisa has honed her expertise to accelerate business growth for her clients while also empowering the new generation of digital marketers to be critical thinkers who thoroughly understand marketing strategy and its corresponding execution. Her company specializes in supporting entrepreneurs’ dreams by amping up their online presence with search-engine optimized user-friendly websites, organic social media marketing, and digital advertising.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

Personally, I’m in the middle of a program called Revived Woman to work on resetting my minerals which will rebalance my hormones and help my body heal from the cellular level. I’m still at the beginning of these life changes, but I’m already reducing stress, reducing inflammation, increasing my energy, etc.

Professionally, I’m in the midst of building a new website for my agency that will transform the way agencies and marketing experts interact with prospects.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

In the world of business, the leaders who have influenced me most are my Mom, Jessica Dombrowski-Yizar, and Bridget Brady. Each of them taught me a different aspect of amazing female leadership whether it was working diligently to get the job done, incorporating a community focus in the business, or what it really takes to be an entrepreneur.

On a different note, if you took all of these fabulous women and rolled them into one they’d make Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. She’s magical, a wonderful mother, an incredible businesswoman, a tremendous friend, and so much more!

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

My biggest mistake as a leader was expecting the same work ethic, drive, and skills from inherited team members versus those I had the opportunity to interview and hire directly. I discovered that it takes more work on my part to “lead the elephant.”

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

Over time, leadership to me has come to mean inclusion. Gone are the days when as a leader you kept the team at a distance and didn’t cultivate collaborative work relationships with them unless they were your direct reports. Now, a cohesive team is a happy team and a happy team is a productive team.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

If your team is learning new things regularly, you’ll avoid boredom while developing each colleague professionally, and cultivating an amazing workplace. This way of leading, as a professional mentor, is what I embrace daily within my marketing agency, and I do the same with the students in my Digital Marketing Boot Camp at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It truly is a win-win!

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

The leaders I admire most empower, encourage, and inspire their teams through communication and mentorship. I believe this is the most important trait of a leader.

No employee in this day and age wants to feel like they aren’t contributing to the bigger picture, that their efforts don’t directly drive the company forward, or their support doesn’t help reach the organization’s overarching goals. Help your team members grow into promotions within the organization. Mentor them. Be happy for their successes and take responsibility for any failures of your team while providing a means for everyone involved to do a forensic analysis of what went wrong and how to improve systems and strategies to prevent such failures in the future.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

It’s important to communicate what everyone’s roles are, why their role is important, how each role benefits each teammate, and how together everyone will help achieve the company’s overarching goals for the year. When people know the “why” they can be invested in it…and most of the time, they want to be invested in it. Additionally, this clear communication helps set expectations and establish self-discipline and accountability.

Once everyone is on the same page with the who, what, where, when, why, and how it’s time to put on the mentorship hat. Can you have someone on your team shadow you when you work on weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual tasks or projects? Always offer to constructive criticism of your team’s work. It will help them improve and in the long run streamline the workflow making everyone more productive. Efficient and productive teams make happy team players.

Give your team the opportunity to make decisions either as a group or individually. Have them assess or validate the why behind their decision. Even if that decision isn’t the best one, you can fall back on choosing a different decision as the leader, but make sure you explain why through constructive feedback.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

  1. Integrity. Doing the right thing all the time, even when no one is looking, is important. It benefits your personal well-being by way of keeping additional stress at bay. And when you put out good into the world, it creates a ripple effect and comes back to you in spades. I’ve implemented integrity in both my personal and professional life. For example, after having been married to a narcissist, liar, cheater, and maybe even sociopath in years past, I maintained my position that our sons would learn for themselves (in time) who their father really was without me bashing him or saying anything negative about it him in front of or to them. Our sons are now young adults; they’re amazing, smart, kind, and loving. They contribute to making the world a better place and I couldn’t be more proud.
  2. Communication: As a leader, being direct with communication from the start helps your team understand who you are, what you expect of yourself, and what you expect from them. It also encourages collaboration and can help prevent conflict. In any position of authority I’ve held during my marketing career, I have always introduced myself to the team I’ve inherited with one-on-one meetings. I use that opportunity to get to know each team member, their motivations for their role, their life dreams, etc. And, I take the time to share with them more about myself including how I manage, what my expectations are, where/how I communicate, my expectations for collaboration and communication from them, and the fact that I highly value team members that are self-disciplined and self-accountable.
  3. Agility: Having the fluidity as a leader to learn new things that will benefit the company, your leadership, and/or the team is another key trait that I firmly believe in. When we’re too stuck in our ways, the truth is, we’re standing in our own way of progress. While I feel that I’ve been pretty agile during my career, I have certainly worked for management and executive management that has not been. When that happens, I’ve seen employee morale suffer along with the bottom line of the business. One valuable thing I took away from my marketing degree, oh so many years ago is, the success of a business lies with top management. (And I’ll add to this…top management needs to be agile.)
  4. Gratitude: Remembering to be thankful for your position, the ability to mentor and shape the next generation of leaders, and for everything your team brings to the table is not only another way to help keep stress at bay, but also creates a mindset of gratefulness and abundance, which is a definitely a better place to be over being anxious, etc. I wasn’t raised with a mindset of abundance, in fact, my upbringing was quite the opposite. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that money isn’t bad, people who have money aren’t inherently bad people, and one of the biggest epiphanies that blew my mind occurred towards the beginning of COVID. I learned it from Thrive Academy (a previous client when I ran the team at Amp Up My Biz): the money in the world hasn’t disappeared or dried up. Money is still flowing, but you need to pivot your business and marketing strategies to attract your ideal clients. (I’m paraphrasing here, but this was my takeaway.)
  5. Empathy: This key leadership trait is a part of our emotional intelligence and is another way we can imrpove the workplace, cultivate the work culture we desire, and build an amazing team and business together. As it turns out, I’m an empath and this trait comes pretty naturally to me. I care deeply for my team, my clients, my family, and my friends. I want the best for everyone and I’ll do everything in my power to help make the world better for all of us.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

Coach John Wooden’s mindset is definitely aligned with my own. When he said, “Make each day your masterpiece.”, it reminds me of my personal mantra, “to be better today than I was yesterday.” As a leader, it’s important that I am always improving in one way or another. What better way to do that than to seize each and every day and make it my masterpiece?

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

I would love to inspire the next generation of digital markers to join my team as Vertical Insight Marketing continues to grow. And I hope that I’m able to impart any wisdom I have, personally or professionally, to help make each and every one of my team members to be better today than they were yesterday.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

Feel free to connect with me personally on LinkedIn: https://LinkedIn.com/in/lisa-cutter-marketing-maven.

Or hit up my custom under-construction web page to access my portfolio, learn more about me and Vertical Insight Marketing, and get in touch: http://verticalinsight.net.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!