Wednesday, 30 October 2013

9 Attributes of a Successful Marketing Leader

What are the attributes of a good marketing leader today? I've been giving this a little thought recently - marketing is being asked to contribute more than ever before to the business (a great opportunity), is having to deal with an unprecedented amount of change driven by a number of factors, and strategic choices are having to be made on what to change first and what to ignore. 
So here's my initial thoughts:

  1. Commercial Connectedness. Running events and producing brochures is not enough anymore. We need to demonstrate revenue contribution to the business. That means marketing leaders need to be tightly integrated into the commercial fabric of the business so that they can shape the direction and increase the contribution that their department can make.
  2. Inspiration. Today's marketing department needs to evolve to take account of changes in buyer behaviour and the digital landscape. Leaders need to have a clear vision of where the team is heading that everyone can buy into and contribute towards. 
  3. Operational Focus. Change is exciting and stimulating (most of the time), but you get little credit for it until it's done. Meanwhile if your revenue contribution declines you'll have more "help" than you can handle. So you need to have the operational focus to ensure that you turn all the dials green so that you can get the space to drive the transformations you need.
  4. Digital Savvy. One day soon we'll stop using the term "digital marketing" and just use the word "marketing" again, as the digital element will be inherently integrated into everything we do. As a leader you don't need to have the departmental expert in all things digital, but you absolutely need to know enough to see how the various elements fit together and add value (to the prospect)
  5. Customer Strategy & Advocacy. In the rush to become "modern" I have seen many organisations invest in siloed digital skills at the expense of more tradition strategy skills - planning, targeting, value propositions, etc. The reality is you need both - one of the key roles of a leader is to ensure that the activity of the team comes together to add value from the perspective of the customer/prospect.
  6. Resilience. If you're trying to drive change you need to expect bumps along the journey. A strong vision will go a long way to help keep things in perspective, but you will also need the toughness to pick yourself up and re-engage, and to help others do the same.
  7. Collaboration. You may think you're smart - but clever people surround themselves with smart people. Fostering a culture that celebrates sharing and teaming creates a buzz and confidence that maximises the effectiveness of the whole team
  8. Decisiveness. Don't confuse collaboration with abdication! Your are paid to make choices and to do the right thing. Sometimes you just need to make a decision and stand by it, rather than conduct endless research and discussion.
  9. Perspective. Leading a team is a challenge and a privilege. It's both exhausting and energising. But you need to step away from time to time and, for want of a better word, breathe!
What are your thoughts on this?