5 Lessons On How To Push Your Team To Think Bigger, With Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer at AT&T

Don’t stay in your lane. Be curious. Seeking to understand what our colleagues do to support the broader org allows everyone to see the bigger picture. When we open ourselves to others, it gives you…

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I had the pleasure to ask Fiona Carter the Chief Brand Officer, AT&T, for her insights on how to inspire a team. The answers she gave were eye opening, but simple to apply.

Don’t stay in your lane.
 Be curious. Seeking to understand what our colleagues do to support the broader org allows everyone to see the bigger picture. When we open ourselves to others, it gives you a different perspective and can spark new thinking about creative possibilities. There’s nothing like collaboration to bring a big idea to life.

Be a “forever” student. Read everything, research deeply, keep up with news, culture, technology and trends — and soak in conversation with all kinds of interesting people. Unleash your inner unicorn — that almost impossible combination of researcher, technologist, culture maven, spin doctor and entrepreneur — if you dare.

Live the power within.
 We all have the power to create change. I learned this the day I realized that one of our proposed advertising campaigns mostly featured men. I had the power to do something about it, so I revamped our ads to reflect a more positive portrayal of women. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in. You will find allies and change will come. But change only happens when someone dares to take the first step.

We have a beautiful example in Chicago. Hundreds of our employees live in 19 Chicago neighborhoods plagued by the gun violence that has scarred the lives of so many. The easy answer would be to leave. But instead, our employees have channeled a fierce love for this city into an organized effort to deliver jobs, training, community support — whatever it takes to bring real and lasting change to the place they call home. Our “Believe Chicago” program is a powerful pride point for all our employees. And what began as a local effort is now inspiring similar efforts in other cities across the country.

Nothing is impossible when you live your power.

Diversity. Diversity. Diversity.
 Don’t surround yourself with PLY — People Like You. Revel in different viewpoints and perspectives. The truth is, teams are often more like-minded than you think, but the benefits multiply when you embrace new ways of thinking about challenges and opportunities.

Intentionally build a team with different backgrounds and different strengths. Make unconventional choices and pick the alternative candidate. Diverse thinking is a huge competitive advantage that helps you see around corners, change, evolve — and then make that moonshot.

Go all in where it counts
 Multi-tasking is the modern-day enemy. How many of us have too often allowed our smartphone or inboxes to pull us into that rabbit hole called distraction (Some of us even have the nerve to call it work).

Psychologist Michael Gervais, who works with Olympians, Fortune 100 CEOs and other people working in high-stakes environments, offers this wisdom: “Attention is the new currency. Be here now — every moment has value.”

Centering ourselves in the now creates focus. And focus allows us to see that one detail or initiative that could make all the difference. Once you find the thing that most matters, ditch that game of Candy Crush and give it 200 percent of your attention. You won’t regret it.

Head Toward Smoke — Experiment!
 Innovation has become such a hackneyed term. We’re all told we need to innovate to succeed in a breakneck world roiled by constant technology and market disruption. And yet, innovation can feel so out of reach to those of us in the working trenches. My advice: Experiment instead.

Think about it. Experiments, by their nature, are designed to be unpredictable, if not downright dangerous. You’re rummaging around in the unknown for a result that can’t be predicted — and hasn’t yet revealed itself. (Think back to your high school days in the lab.) Who knows what can come when you start pushing the boundaries, breaking the status quo and heading toward the smoke of a distant idea to solve a “here and now” problem. It’s just easier for a team to wrap its head around the notion of experimenting, because experiments often blow up — and that’s okay. You tried something different, and that will lead you eventually to the breakthrough idea.

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