Leading with subtitles — Yep, you read that right…

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What’s your subtitle? Job or organizational titles can be ambiguous and broad, but narrowing your focus to candid subtitles is, I believe, highly beneficial. Subtitles condense, recapitulate and prioritize your focus as a leader, providing unmistakable clarity and purpose behind every question asked, task you complete or initiative you carry out. Though not mandated or binding by any organization, subtitles can help you as a leader disentangle from the specter of busyness and triage your thoughts, habits and patterns back to your ultimate focus and objectives.

Here’s how it works. If your title is VP of Sales for your organization, perhaps an even more fun or jocular subtitle may be Discerner of All Things Sales, Sales Commander, or Closer of All Sales. Even though they may seem humorous or potentially pandering to a degree, subtitles can simplify your outlook and unlock your full potential as a leader. 

Here’s why they are essential right now. The underlying context of defining your subtitle is to unearth, describe and amplify your passion and skillset. Your subtitle isn’t simply a fun reflection of your core function; it should pay homage to your passion and nature as a leader. Be unforgiving and relentless in pursuing your authentic self within your subtitle because now is the time to dig into what drives and motivates you to unveil your superpower. Furthermore, we’re knee-deep into the year’s second half, so avid focus and need for your specific skillsets will be crucial in delivering annual organizational objectives.

Early in my career, I inadvertently discovered that my superpower was helper-builder. I’ve always been passionate about helping people and seeing others succeed. Therefore, I developed a love for building sustainable strategies, content, services, teams, departments or committees to create vibrant organizations and communities. If you’re having trouble identifying a passion that translates into a subtitle that ultimately correlates to your core function, try asking a friend, trusted mentor or adviser what makes you unique in your field. Perhaps you have a natural energy about you that uplifts others or even the ability to inspire groups of people with your optimistic outlook. Identifying your superpower, incorporating it into your subtitle, owning it and communicating it to your colleagues is a compelling, valuable force that can jump-start your department and enhance revenue anytime — especially right now!

Don’t believe me? Put it to the test; schedule a small round table with your immediate managers and ask them to come prepared with what they would declare their natural superpower and how it helps them in their current role or function. This meeting should be relatively short, fun and have somewhat of an “icebreaker” vibe, so be sure to cultivate a cheerful and good-humored setting. Next, go around the room and ask them to state their superpower and why they believe it’s vital to who they are and what they do. Lastly, ask them to take a few moments and create their subtitle, infusing their superpower and function, and ask if they feel comfortable sharing it with the group. This meeting should be jam-packed with vibrancy, but as your final act in the meeting, you’ll want to tie in organizational objectives for the second half of the year and ask for their help in delivering results based on their subtitles. This practice should instill confidence in your team and their abilities while aligning their departmental function and focus with their passion and skillset.

July is a fantastic time of the year! It’s a time to regain your energy and re-empower yourself and your team with objective hope, focus and optimism. The next two quarters are annual performance-defining timeframes for many retailers and organizations. Capitalize on the moment, own your passion and skillsets, define your subtitle and put it into action to achieve your goals. In context, this is not the season to simply be a “boxer” by title; instead, be the “Deliverer of Haymakers” to win your fight for the year.

Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast.

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