Effectiveness of Shared Leadership

The modern trend of companies operating on a more lateral structure has caused a reliance on team performance.  Across both large and small companies, team-based knowledge has become a main focus for business operations (Pearce & Barkus, 2004).  However, this shift of reliance on teams requires a new approach to leadership that allows for shared responsibilities across team members.  In order for a team to remain effective and fast-acting, team members must feel empowered to take action and share the responsibilities of leadership.

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Shared leadership requires a certain type of working environment in order to be successful.  Specifically, it is recommended that the work has a high level of interdependence, creativity, and complexity (Pearce & Barkus, 2004).  When the team members’ responsibilities are interconnected, and when members are all working toward a common goal, the team can be extremely productive.  In implementing a shared leadership model, it is the responsibility of the vertical leader to focus on managing the boundaries of the team, filing knowledge voids, keeping the team focused on the goal, and ensuring that the team stays motivated.

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Shared Leadership in the Healthcare Environment

The level of complexity and creativity present in a working environment has a direct impact on the success of shared leadership models.  In the healthcare environment, shared leadership can result in unorganized performance.  For example, if medical students are charged with correctly diagnosing patients, it is recommended that a more vertical leadership style is relied on due to the need to rely on the knowledge of the overseeing physician (Pearce & Barkus, 2004).  If a situation needs specific tasks from specific people, as is often the case in the healthcare environment, then a clearer team structure and assignment of duties can be a more organized way to operate.

Despite physician-oriented teams not being good candidates for shared leadership, other teams within the healthcare environment can benefit from a more horizontal leadership model.  For example, teams within the billing department or caseworkers assigned with patient follow-up might be able to help their team operate more efficiently by using a shared leadership model.  In these situations, leaders can focus on managing boundaries within the team and interchanging personnel depending on the case.  With a shared leadership model, if an issue arises or a case becomes complex, team members can be empowered to help out and take responsibility.

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Shared Leadership in the Creative Environment

As the level of complexity and creativity of a project increases, the more likely that shared leadership models will be effective.  A good example of effective shared leadership can be found within the marketing environment.  In this situation, an ad agency can be tasked with creating a new campaign for a client.  Rather than a leader trying to piece out every aspect of a campaign, such as messaging and graphic design, the team can work collaboratively on the project.  This process can allow for a better integration of ideas and result in a higher-quality project.  A main focus of the vertical leader in this situation would be ensuring that talented members are added to the team, particularly those who have a wide-range of skills.

Despite the creative nature of marketing, there are also situations where shared leadership would not be effective.  In the day-to-day management of digital marketing campaigns, it might be a better idea to have specific personnel assigned to specific accounts.  By an account having one main manager, the manager can ensure that strategies remain organized.  With too many people making changes to an account using different approaches, performance can be negatively impacted.  If an agency wants to share leadership across accounts, it is key that team members communicate with each other and clearly track the changes made to accounts.

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Conclusion

As more companies rely on teams to solve business problems, it is key that leaders understand the benefits and drawbacks associated with shared leadership.  In order for shared leadership to be effective, teams should have the right combination of team members as well as the right combination of workload characteristics.  Workload that is complex and requires a high level of creativity and interdependence between team members is a good candidate for shared leadership. 

Case workers in the healthcare environment and creative teams in ad agencies are good examples of when shared leadership models can be successful.  However, like in the case of patient diagnosis and day-to-day management of ad accounts, work that requires a high level of organization and specific assigned tasks may be better suited to other leadership models.  When choosing to implement a shared leadership model, it is important that the vertical leader understands the true capabilities of their team and how that aligns with the reality of the project.

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Reference

Pearce, C. L., & Barkus, B. (2004). The future of leadership: Combining vertical and shared leadership to transform knowledge work. The Academy of Management Executive, 18(1), 47-59.

Issues and Solutions for Virtual Management

When it comes to virtual management, certain characteristics of the digital working environment pose unique considerations for how managers interact with and motivate their team members.  By acknowledging the issues impacting task and relationship behaviors, a virtual leader can utilize a coaching approach to lower turnover, improve morale, and ensure timely completion of projects.

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Issues of a Virtual Environment

When facing the prospect of leading a team in a virtual environment, the lack of being “face-to-face” with employees poses a diverse set of challenges.  Communicating face-to-face and having physical accessibility to employees is a key aspect of performing relationship behaviors (Northouse, 2016).  In order to compensate for the lack of physical closeness, a manager can utilize tools like video conferencing and ensuring open, constant communication with team members.  It is crucial that virtual team members feel supported and are encouraged to speak out with any issues they are facing.

Another consideration with virtual team leadership is the issue of task accomplishment.  Without being able to easily access team members, employees might face performance issues due to lesser structure and accountability.  The leader can compensate for this perceived lack of structure by utilizing project management tools and ensuring that employees clearly understand the scope of assigned tasks and their deadlines (DeRosa & Lepsinger, 2015).  Utilizing project and time management tools can help to regulate accountability and encourage employees to take individual responsibility for their work.

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The Coaching Approach

Considering the management issues faced in performing both task and relationship behaviors in a virtual environment, an effective leadership style should allow a leader to compensate for the weaknesses impacting both of these areas.  In the S2/coaching approach from the situational approach to leadership, the leader takes on a high-directive, high-supportive style: focusing on “both achieving goals and meeting followers’ socio-economic needs” (Northouse, 2016, p. 94).  The coaching leadership style allows a virtual team leader to remain emotionally and “physically” accessible to team members, while also keeping the workload organized and empowering employees to take responsibility for their assignments. 

In my personal experience, having open communication and a supportive atmosphere is crucial for virtual teams to be successful.  According to the Harvard Business Review, “the ongoing dialogue of coaching guarantees that people know what is expected of them and how their work fits into a larger vision or strategy. That affects responsibility and clarity” (Goleman, 2000, p. 87).  It is important for a virtual leader to have the ability to structure the workload and monitor the progress of employees.  At the same time, it is crucial that followers view their virtual leader as a supportive source they can go to with any problems.  The coaching approach to management addresses the unique task and relationship needs of a virtual team and provides solutions for leaders who work in a virtual environment. 

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References

DeRosa, D., & Lepsinger, R. (2015). How to lead an effective virtual team. Retrieved from https://iveybusinessjournal.com/how-to-lead-an-effective-virtual-team/

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), 78-90.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). (7th ed.) Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications

Rebecca Wickes Wins Top International “Summit Emerging Media Award”

Meesh Mobile App Places in Global Competition for Creative Excellence in Emerging Media

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Rebecca Wickes is a Leader Award winner in the 2018 Summit Emerging Media Award (Summit EMA) competition for her work on the Meesh Mobile App.

The Meesh Mobile App is a collection of animated stickers featuring the cartoon cat, Meesh.  The app is available in the Apple App Store for iMessage and has been downloaded in over 40 countries across the globe.  Users can select from 30 unique, animated Meesh stickers and send them to each other via iMessage on iOS devices.

The Summit Emerging Media Award (Summit EMA) began in 2007 and evolved through a need to recognize and celebrate creativity, innovation and those pushing the bounds of creative excellence in all forms of emerging media.

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Jocelyn Luciano, Executive Director for the Summit International Awards (SIA) says, “those involved in today’s emerging media technologies are the leaders who are establishing tomorrow’s avenues of advertising communications and emphasizing the importance of the consumer’s experience.  Most communication professionals recognize that established avenues of communication can be reliable and safe.  However, audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented and difficult to engage, inform and affect.  Developing, applying and combining emerging media with creative messaging and market awareness is challenging.  Achieving this synthesis is what makes earning a Summit EMA a significant achievement.”

For Rebecca Wickes, winning a Summit Emerging Media Award is a thrilling achievement: “I am extremely passionate about the mobile space and am honored to have one of my apps recognized by such a powerful industry leader like the Summit International Awards,” Wickes says.  “Data and trends are clearly distinguishing mobile as the preferred landscape for consumers to interact with companies and with each other.  Meesh’s success is a prime example of the power of mobile communication in our technological age and represents the opportunity for brands to create relatable and engaging experiences for mobile users.”

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Rebecca Wickes first became passionate about mobile technology during her work as a digital marketing consultant: “specializing in pay-per-click advertising and Google Analytics, I have seen first-hand the power of mobile when it comes to both building successful brands and engaging with consumers,” Wickes says.

The Summit International Awards (SIA) organization is dedicated to furthering creative excellence in the communications industry.  It administers three distinguished award competitions throughout the year with the goal of raising the awareness of companies and individuals who have the creative and marketing talent to go beyond the ordinary.

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“Branching into mobile application development has been such a rewarding process that has allowed me to harness all of my skills when it comes to market research, product development, branding, graphic design, and digital marketing.  My approach to creating this app encompassed nearly every facet of business and marketing: from developing a comprehensive market-entry strategy, to conducting quantitative research studies and implementing full-scale promotional campaigns.  Receiving this 2018 Summit Emerging Media Award is a humbling and motivating experience and I look forward to continuing to push the boundaries of media and technology.”

This SIA organization stands apart by offering a true competitive environment where entries are judged alongside those of their peers.  Companies and individuals from more than 50 countries and across five continents participate in its award programs. The SIA organization conducts three awards each year: Summit Creative Award, Summit Emerging Media Award and Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award.

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More Information & Press Photos

Additional HD press/PR photos are available via the following Google Drive Link:

http://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19tQSI-b-7Y4lQg0Ebq…

Users can download the app by searching for “Meesh” in the Apple App Store or by using the following direct App Store Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meesh-animated-cat/id13999…

More information about the Summit International Awards and the Summit EMA is available on http://summitawards.com

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About Rebecca Wickes

Rebecca Wickes is a Google-Certified marketing consultant based out of Houston, Texas.  Specializing in pay-per-click advertising, her passion for data-driven marketing has enabled her to transform businesses across the United States.  She is pursuing her Master of Business Administration through the University of Texas at Tyler.

3 Ways DuoLingo Creates Positive UX for Mobile Ads

DuoLingo has been a game-changer in the world of language learning apps. Across the board, companies everywhere are experimenting with different pricing models to generate revenue for their mobile apps.

Finding a good balance between generating revenue and creating a positive user experience is crucial for user retention and app differentiation in the mobile marketplace.

Here are 3 ways DuoLingo has created a positive user experience through their ad monetization efforts.

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1. It’s seamlessly integrated

After a user completes a lesson, they are redirected to an ad. After a few seconds, the option emerges to exit out of the ad. On the back end, this process guarantees an advertiser that at least those few seconds have captured the user’s impression.

This ad delivery process is clean and non-invasive. In addition, the experience turns into a “break” between lessons, rather than a punishment.

duolingo ad preview in app

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2. Rewarded video

Rewarded video has been a gamechanger for mobile app developers. It puts the power of the ad into the hands of the consumer.

Instead of creating an aversive experience where users are actively trying to avoid ads, the process of rewarded video creates a positive connotation with advertisements.

Google recently announced new “Rewarded Products” tools for Android developers to easily integrate “rewarded video” into their apps. This switch in mobile ad monetization represents a larger cultural shift to keep users more engaged and less hostile to mobile advertising.

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3. Users can go “ad free”

Between in-app-purchase (IAP) and monetization through ads, revenues can become skewed for mobile app companies. Revenue models that depend on income from ads make it difficult for companies to justify offering a way for users to opt-out of ads completely, while still remaining profitable.

However, having that “opt-out” option for users is crucial for a positive user experience. DuoLingo balances lost ad revenue with options for monthly “Plus” subscriptions.  For users who are looking for a truly seamless language-learning experience, opting-out of ads is another option that positively enhances UX.

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Looking for some cool mobile apps to download? Check out ours!

NEW Premium Meesh Stickers

The “Meesh Animated Cat” mobile app has been downloaded in over 40 countries. In addition, Meesh recently won a coveted 2018 Emerging Media Award from Summit International Awards.

NEW Premium Meesh Stickers offer a unique selection of animated stickers made for Meesh fans all over the world. Users can “unlock” the stickers in the App for $0.99.

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new meesh stickers preview

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There are 12 NEW Premium Stickers. In addition, there is one NEW Free Sticker for users who prefer to stick to the freebies.

From a bunny rabbit to a chef, the Premium Stickers offer a wide variety of fun scenes for users to enjoy in their iMessage conversations.

Meesh has captivated users around the globe. With these newest Meesh iMessage stickers, users can further enhance their everyday conversations and connect with each other.

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3 Situations: When to Get a Google Analytics Audit

A Google Analytics Audit offers the opportunity to examine how consumers are engaging with your brand and, ultimately, contributing to your bottom line.

Understanding consumer behavior on your website is a crucial aspect of making informed business decisions.

Here are three situations when you should consider getting a Google Analytics Audit.

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1. Your conversions are lower than expected

Are consumer calling you and subscribing to your email list? Are they making purchases?

Google Analytics sheds light on exit rates and bounce rates. These metrics can help you visualize the Conversion Flow taking place on your website. In addition, Conversion Funnels can be set up to track specific flows of behaviors across specific pages of your website.

A Google Analytics Audit is also a great time to examine how you currently have Conversion Tracking set up on your website. As a result, you can identify any conflicting code issues that may be preventing accurate tracking of your conversions.

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2. You want to know more about the impact of a marketing or advertising campaign

Referral Traffic is tracked separately through Google Analytics. In other words, you can see how referral traffic is engaging on your website.

Examining Referral Traffic can also help you make informed decisions about which outlets are giving you the best ROI.  In addition, you can use this data to help negotiate media deals and even identify outlets that might be good options for future partnerships.

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3. Visitors to your site aren’t behaving the way you think they should

Above all, being able to track the customer journey through your website is crucial. A Google Analytics Audit can provide meaningful data to help assign real values to consumer interactions on your website.

How many pages are consumers viewing? Are they simply bouncing off your homepage?

Analyzing consumer behavior data will allow you to take a closer look at your website’s User Experience (UX).  With this data, you can create a strategy and implement changes that enhance the online experience you are providing to your customers.

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We Can Audit Your Google Analytics Account!

A Google-Certified individual will audit your account, optimize your website, and train your staff on how to monitor your performance.

Services are customizable to fit the needs of your organization.

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Review of New Delta iMessage Stickers

The new Delta iMessage Stickers Mobile App is a phenomenal example of how brands can utilize iMessage Stickers to engage with their audience and deliver valuable brand experiences in our mobile age.

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iMessage Stickers are the newest obsession for iPhone and iPad users. Delta Airlines has recognized the value of providing tech that can build brand awareness and engage consumers.

The newest additions to the engaging Delta iMessage Stickers app were released in November of 2018 and come auto-installed on iOS users’ devices during a routine update of the Delta Airlines Mobile App.

The best part of this mobile app is it is not “overly brand-y” or obnoxious. What do I mean by that? You won’t find “FLY DELTA!” slapped across the stickers. Instead, users will find useful, fun stickers that reinforce the brand without alienating people from using them!

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A suitcase, champagne, and the famous Biscoff cookies are just some examples of the variety of icons that Delta chose for their sticker pack. Even better? Many of the stickers are animated.

Reading public forums, it’s apparent that consumers love the stickers. In addition, people are appreciating the homage paid to both the brand and common themes of the travel experience.

This iMessage Sticker pack is a perfect mixture of subtle and not-so-suble brand reinforcement that encourages users to engage with Delta and connect with the brand.

By Delta acknowledging the power of mobile and creating a quality product that delivers a high-quality tech experience, the airline differentiates themselves in the highly-competitive airline marketplace.

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iMessage Sticker Apps are the newest way to engage with your audience. In addition, they provide a wonderful outlet for reinforcing your brand image.

We specialize in delivering quality, unique sticker apps! Discover Trobek’s iMessage Sticker packs, available NOW in the App Store!

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Rebecca Wickes is an Apple Developer and Marketing Consultant, passionate about the mobile space. Learn more about Trobek’s specialties and discover how we can evolve your brand in the digital age.

New Press Release for Newest Mobile Apps

“Southern Sayings” and “Texas Animated Stickers” are my two newest apps to hit the (digital) shelves.

The press release is now live on PRlog.com!

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Two new mobile apps have hit the shelves: “Southern Sayings” and “Texas Animated Stickers.”  Both apps are for iMessage and allow users to customize their iMessage conversations with engaging and lighthearted stickers.  

“Southern Sayings” features an array of 30 text-based stickers that include favorite phrases like “Bless Your Heart,” “Hey Ya’ll,” and the ever-polite “Yes Ma’Am.”  Keeping up with the southern trend, Texas Animated Stickers are a mix of western icons and word-based stickers that users can use to “dress up” their photos and iMessages in their conversations.

Trobek’s founder and Houston-based consultant Rebecca Wickes explains how easy it is to use the stickers. “To send a sticker alongside your iMessage, simply tap on it,” Wickes explains. “To get even more creative, try tapping and holding a sticker to ‘drag and drop’ a cowboy hat on top of your pet, or add a Sherriff star to your selfie. iMessage stickers are a wonderful way to have fun in mobile conversations and provide a great outlet to engage with each other virtually.”

Both mobile apps are available in the Apple App Store for $0.99 download.  

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App Store link for “Southern Sayings”

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App Store link for “Texas Animated Stickers”

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Users can also learn more about the apps by exploring the app pages via the “Learn More” link below.

“Southern Sayings” Mobile App on App Advice

We have a new mobile app feature, and it’s pretty exciting!

App Advice is a modern, visual resource to discover the best iOS mobile apps. They “filter through the 1,500,000+ apps in the App Store to bring you up to date on relevant news regarding apps, as well as providing detailed app reviews.” (App Advice, n.d.)

The company has been awesome enough to feature all of Trobek’s mobile apps so far, and our newest app is no exception!

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In case you haven’t heard, Southern Sayings is a must-have for adding some Southern Charm to your iMessages. The text ANIMATES on 30 stickers for extra flair.

It’s available for download in the App Store for iMessage!

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Head on over to App Advice to see some pretty visuals of the app, or “Learn More” about the app on its Official Page right here on the Trobek website.

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Reference

App Advice. (n.d.). What is App Advice. Retrieved from https://appadvice.com/page/about-us

Startup Training in Denver

Last week, I flew to Denver to train an awesome startup on how to leverage website analytics and social media data for product development.

 

One of the best things about startups says it right in the name: things are starting up.

When it comes to any type of marketing strategy, the deeper the roots go, the more likely it can be successful.

Using marketing and advertising as a “band-aid” never works out well in the long-run.

That’s why, for startups, the somewhat clean slate provides a wonderful opportunity to get set up for success.

It’s very easy for people to get “stuck in one lane,” and it’s even easier for a company to do so.  For startups, getting the product or service right is crucial, but that doesn’t mean the right product today will be right a year from now.

Product development should always be an ongoing process.

Even for myself personally, navigating my career path has been a series of trials and errors.  The point is to keep experimenting, keep optimizing, and keep innovating.

Data is the backbone for these experiments.  It is what can help you to navigate the murky waters of personal bias vs. realistic expectations.

When you lay a solid foundation, set clear goals, and understand how to adapt a strategy on an ongoing basis, you can make informed decisions on the direction to take your company and be prepared for changes in the marketplace.

Also during my time in Denver, I met with Masha from Coding Blonde!

Masha is part of a new generation of female tech influencers who are passionate about breaking gender barriers in tech and encouraging women to pursue careers in all fields related to technology.

The power of the Internet is making self-learning a possibility for all – we need only have the courage and the dedication to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones!