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18 October 2019

The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader (2)

Tag(s): Leadership & Management, Marketing
In this blog I will complete my assessment of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader by Thomas Barta and Patrick Barwise. In my last blog I explained that I had recently met Thomas at a Marketing Society event and I covered Powers #1-6. In this blog I will cover Powers #7-12 and then add some of my own thoughts on the process.

Power #7 Get the Mix Right

The key question: how can I design and build the right team to increase the Valuation Zone? A top priority for every marketing leader is to design and build a cohesive marketing team that can solve the big issues that matter both to customers and the company. This team will have cutting-edge skills and be a talent pool inside the company. The increasing emphasis on digital media and data-based marketing is causing a crisis in marketing skills development as the basic role and nature of strategic marketing haven’t changed.

A marketer will have begun by developing her own functional marketing skills. As a leader your role changes and it becomes more about recruiting, developing, and motivating people with the right technical and human skills – the ability to listen, collaborate, keep going etc. But if you want to change the customer experience you can’t do that on your own. So you need to become a leader of leaders. You and your team have to collectively inspire the rest of the company to want to follow you.

The Study showed strongly that marketers generally rate themselves highly on conceptual/creative skills like brand positioning and marketing strategy but much less well on analytic/executional skills like setting prices and developing new products. But these are at least as important. In that event you need to get the right mix of skills in your team to ensure that all the bases are covered.

Power #8 Cover Them in Trust

The key question: how do I get my team to ask, not for permission, but for forgiveness? The most successful marketing leaders build more than a team. They build a tribe – a close-knit group of capable, mutually supportive people who tackle the big issues together. This requires good conflict management, and in this it’s important to leave your ego behind. All leaders have to have an ego to have the confidence to take on the task of leadership. But in the process they must learn how not to show it.

You need to foster professionalism in the team and to do this you must demonstrate it yourself. Whatever you do sets the tone for their behaviour. So make sure you:
  1. Keep your promises
  2. Follow the rules
  3. Don’t try to pretend to know everything about marketing.
And then set a new rule: “Ask for forgiveness, not permission”. That is to trust your people and let them make mistakes. If some go too far out on a limb then deal with them privately. In meetings show your confidence in the team and make everyone’s voice heard.

Power # 9 Let the Outcomes Speak

The key question: how can I be a fair judge? In the Study, aligning people’s goals with the business objectives and holding them accountable for achieving these goals is a significant driver of senior marketers’ business impact. This seems obvious but the Study also shows that letting the outcomes speak is a major struggle for many marketers. The 360° feedback shows that many marketers are rated as poor in managing performance. Teams whose leaders know how to manage performance produce higher levels of performance. They’re well focused and keep deadlines.

Ambitious but realistic deadlines help people focus on what matters. They also energise people and create a sense of pace. You must also follow through on these deadlines otherwise they are meaningless. In meetings don’t worry about minutes that come out too late and don’t get read. Concentrate in the meeting on clarifying what each member of the team has committed to do. Separately agree with each of your team how they spend their time. Every three to six months ask each of them “What’s the most important thing you’ll achieve over the next three to six months to help the team increase the Valuation Zone? And then ask how (in broad percentages) you will allocate your time to achieve this goal.

You must hold people accountable. You will no doubt want to be supportive but you still have to judge performance. Some people find this difficult because in judging your direct report’s performance, in some way you are judging you own. In that event consider getting a colleague to make the assessment. I’ll appraise your people if you appraise mine.

In judging performance you must concentrate on facts. Of course, you will want to discuss the way in which an outcome was achieved but you must be clear about the outcome.

Power #10 Fall in Love with Your World.

The key question: How can I inspire others with my expertise? As a marketing leader you’re in the inspiration business. Your boss can say no to your ideas. Your colleagues can choose to ignore your opinion. Even your team can vote with their feet if they don’t agree with your direction. The book covers three possible sources of inspiration for you, starting with knowledge (customers, products, markets).

Knowing the “what”, “why”, and “how” of your customers, your market, and your products is your lifeblood. To help your company expand the Valuation Zone, you must know what customers want, why they want it, and how they decide to buy. You must also understand what your competitors do, why they do what they do, and how they operate. This kind of detail inspires you. The more of it you know, the better able you are to do a great job.

But despite this when the Economist Intelligence Unit recently asked 389 senior executives “Who is the voice of the customer in your company?” only 32% put their top marketer first.  As an inspiring marketing leader you must become the most knowledgeable customer, market and product expert in your company.

Some marketing leaders have done this by working outside marketing first. Perhaps some time in sales will tell you how your customers really see the company. Time in the factory will help you understand how the product is made. Some marketing leaders ask their customers directly for help in developing products.

You must turn research results into customer’s insights. Everyone is drowning in data. It’s what the data tells you that matters. And these insights must be actionable and then acted upon.

Power #11 Know How You Inspire

The key question: as a marketing leader, how can I leverage what makes me tick? Another source of inspiration for you will simply come from who you are and what you believe in. Self-awareness is a big driver of career success. There are three useful steps to take:
  1. Confirm what makes you tick (the key step.)
  2. Find out how you inspire others today.
  3. Develop your effective authenticity.
Psychometric tests like Myers-Briggs are useful tools. If you’ve taken one of these tests dust off the results and read them again. Ask yourself: What are the aspects of my personality that I find personally most defining or most important? Then take a few minutes to reflect systematically on your career to date and your current job. Then in a longer exercise consider why your various roles, both in your private life as well as your business life, are important to you. If you see the same motivations turning up in your different roles these are the things that really matter to you.

You need to find out how you inspire others today. Ask a number of friends and colleagues to give you feedback but you want honest opinions so find a way to anonymise it. Look at feedback you received in your education or in your earlier career. And consider your own 360° appraisal.

Based on your knowledge of customers, markets and products and now yourself you need to develop your effective authenticity as a marketing leader. One way is to constantly show your team how important their work is and how proud you are of them. But as important is to get rid of any destructive leadership behaviours like showing off, shouting at people or cutting them off.

Power # 121 Aim Higher

The key question: what is your marketing leadership vision? Having an inspiring personal vision is a significant driver of marketers’ business impact and the largest driver of career success. When you can align your personal vision with the Company’s major goals you are most likely to enjoy success in both. It is recommended that marketers write down a vision for how to succeed, so they can inspire a customer-led organisation and create customer value.
In your own manifesto you could cover:
  • The difference you will be making to customers and the industry
  • The impact you will have had on the business – its culture and its performance
  • Where you will stand in your career
  • What difference do you want to make to people who matter to you?
  • How happy and healthy will you be; how will you integrate work and your private life?
To inspire others, you first have to be inspired.

The book is clearly based on an enormous piece of research, claimed to be the largest global study ever conducted on marketing leadership. I have done my best to summarise its key messages in these two blogs. But I have had to leave out what in some ways are the best parts of the book, that is a series of stories that illustrate these messages. I commend the book to readers even if you have already enjoyed your years of marketing leadership as I have. In conversation with Thomas he was surprised that someone of my seniority would attend such a presentation. But as I said to him, I am always keen to learn and happy to pass on the lessons to others.

At the beginning of the book are a series of tributes from distinguished leaders of marketing and other disciplines. Amanda Mackenzie OBE is a friend of mine who now runs Business in the Community but at the time the book was published she was still global CMO of Aviva, a clear marketing leader. She says “I’ve always been convinced that marketing leaders need unique skills to be effective and make the greatest difference. Hurrah for Barta and Barwise who have quantified great marketing leadership and show some great, simple, and clear ways for achieving it. This is a hugely valuable, numbers-based book of practical advice. I only wish I had been able to read it a good few years ago!”

Me too.

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