10 leadership strategies you should be embracing

Spencer Stuart senior director and marketing recruitment guru Greg Welsh gets CMOs into leadership gear with these top tips

It’s a wonderful time to be leading as CMO - assuming you’re up to the challenge. As companies face growing pressure to drive growth in this unpredictable environment, marketing is increasingly on your CEO’s agenda and, rest assured, it is being hotly debated in the boardroom, as well.

Marketing and, specifically, the CMO are leading many of the most important initiatives for companies, whether it’s taking the lead on innovation, serving as the voice of the customer to the organisation, or investing in social media or digital technologies. I view this as a terrific perch from which to lead, but it is not without its challenges.

Today it is assumed that CMOs know how to ensure that brands and products are relevant to local customers across the global marketplace. They are expected to drive innovation in product development, social media and mobile, and to take the lead in tapping into the unprecedented levels of customer data that are available to drive the development of products and services, all while shaping the overall marketing plan.

Now firmly planted in the C-suite, the best CMOs view themselves as leaders first and marketers second. We believe that this notion is supported by two developments: the changing perception of marketing and the expansion of CMOs’ tenures. Our annual tenure study reflects an average tenure for CMOs of 43 months, nearly 18 months longer than just five years ago. Increased tenure means less movement among CMOs, which places experienced CMOs in high demand, particularly marketing executives with digital expertise. Interestingly, we are also seeing growing demand for digitally savvy marketers in our search work for board directors.

While I would argue it’s never been a better time to lead as CMO, being effective in this expanded role requires CMOs to continually expand their skills as marketers and as inspirational leaders of the organisation. Here, I offer a few tips for senior marketers, drawing on what I see from the top CMOs and what clients say they are seeking in progressive marketing leaders.

1. Get in shape

As you might expect, the regime of a CMO is demanding, both physically and mentally. It should come as no surprise, then, that the very best CMOs remain disciplined around their health and well-being. Remember ‘leading’ also means the example that you set, not just what you say. Great leaders continually remind me that they cannot imagine tackling their jobs without their fitness.

2. Take your CIO to lunch—monthly

Digital technologies, social media and customer data analytics are changing the rules of marketing. Leveraging the opportunities in these areas requires technology and no one understands your company’s infrastructure, capabilities and technology like the chief information (or technology) officer down the hall. There is a reason they call it ‘Big Data’. You will need a trusted partner to tackle such initiatives, and you are wise to be purposeful in seeking the CIO’s counsel and leveraging his or her network.

3. Develop future leaders

I find the best CMOs truly view talent development as ‘job 1’. Today we are seeing more non-traditional routes to the CMO role. Sophisticated US companies like Target and Best Buy for example, have recently installed relatively young, charismatic leaders with diverse backgrounds in their top marketing posts. You need to think about not only how you staff your team, but also how you can nurture and train tomorrow’s leaders.

Consider that your young digital staff might require different skills and coaching than yesterday’s traditional CPG brand marketers; they likely know significantly more about digital than the most senior members of your team but may have less experience leading teams and managing a business. Find ways to give them leadership experience and exposure to the P&L; give them assignments that require them to collaborate and influence other departments, or encourage them to gain experience outside work, such as by serving on a non-profit board or committee.

4. Reignite the flame with agency partners

The early months of the new year are a great time to think about how you might take a fresh approach with your agency partners. They would welcome it, too. When was the last time you brought your agencies in to do an idea session focused exclusively on growing the business? Importantly, do this without delving into the typical daily issues.

5. Surprise your staff

I don’t know of a company in which the people aren’t working harder than they ever have before. As the leader of a 24/7 team, you need to be the one to say: ‘Hey, thanks. Let’s take a moment to reflect on our successes and celebrate’. Surprise your team with something fun and different that acknowledges recent accomplishments. Recall people typically change jobs because of their bosses, not the company. You need to continually work hard to be the kind of leader that people aspire to follow.

6. Continually seek out unlikely external partnerships

This is not the time to go it alone. Today’s top companies are taking advantage of new and innovative partnerships to make a big impact with customers. Which companies could add value to your company’s business or marketing efforts? Building your personal network has always been important, but you should be overt in your outreach and continually consider how different companies could be symbiotic partners.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch Marketing Council Episode 3: Launching in the technology sector

Our multi-part video series, Ready to Launch, is focused on unlocking the secrets of launching brands, products and services by exploring real-life examples from Australia’s marketing elite. The series is being produced as part of the Launch Marketing Council initiative by CMO in conjunction with independent agency, Five by Five Global.

More Videos

NetSuite started out as a cloud-based provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software or as NetSuite solution provider, which companies...

talalyousaf

NetSuite to acquire Bronto's digital marketing platform for US$200m

Read more

Thanks for sharing this post, its really good information I get through this blog.CDPO Online Exam Training

Infosectrain01

3 ways Booking.com is improving its B2B marketing game

Read more

Time is of the essence, especially for customer service teams. With chatbots, you can interact and assist customers at a larger scale, al...

Jai

Triple-digit customer database growth, personalised engagement become reality for Stone & Wood

Read more

Hey Emilie - great read, and I particularly liked the section on the pressure of having brand purpose/Gen Z spending habits. It's great t...

Chris Thomas

Have customers really changed? - Marketing edge - CMO Australia

Read more

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the Retail Business and retail Tec...

Sheetal Kamble

SAP retail chief: Why more retailers need to harness data differently

Read more

Blog Posts

How the CMO can get the board on the customer’s side

For some CMOs, it’s easy to feel alone in the undying quest to better serve the customer. At times, it feels like the marketing department and the boards are speaking a different language, with one side trying to serve the customer, and the other side more focused on the shareholders and financials.

Jeff Cooper

CMO and board, Business Excellence Australia

The Secret Ingredients of a CX-Led Company Culture

When I talk to organisations around the world about their customer experience strategy, it is often the CMOs and their marketing teams who take the lead. They’re keen to improve the ways they attract and engage customers, and they want to understand the technologies that can help them make their customer experience truly outstanding.

Steven van Belleghem

Author, CX expert

The Future Of Social Is Joyful, Pass It On

2019 was a horror year for social media. But in 2020 something different emerged that has shifted the tone, format and intent of the medium. A new social vibe born out of the pandemic and fuelled by the emergence of a platform tailor made for the next generation of consumers.

Dan Young

Managing director, Pulse

Sign in