Successful CMOs understand the need to be well-rounded, delivering and demonstrating both strategic vision and tactical execution. Marketing leaders who focus too much of one or not enough of the other undermine their effectiveness. And it isn’t enough to set and execute strategy. Besides being the stewards of the corporate brand, marketing leaders—all business leaders—must also manage their personal brands within their organizations. They have to communicate their strategic vision, showcase marketing success and manage perceptions of the value they personally bring to the organization.
Straddling the fence between vision and execution, strategies and tactics is one of the most impressive dance moves of leading CMOs. Those who do this dance well are able to:
- Cast a vision that inspires, influences and motivates them to take action
- Plan and communicate a marketing strategy that others can use to
- Give guidance and freedom to execute that strategy
- Know when to “get into the details” without taking control
These leaders balance long-term visionary leadership with near-term marketing management in five key areas:
- marketing programs
For instance, marketing leaders get the importance of taking a strategic approach to managing innovation. They know they need to dedicate resources, source and manage ideas, define success criteria and develop a process for turning ideas into pilots and programs. They try to avoid bright-shiny-object-syndrome by focusing innovation efforts on ideas that align with strategy and business goals. Then, they run into the CEO, who read an article about Snapchat and wants to know how they’re using the platform. Savvy CMOs and marketing leaders know how to read these situations. They can quickly discern what type of response the situation demands and when to prioritize vision over execution, strategy over tactics, or agility over discipline.
Well-rounded leaders devote time and energy to both vision and execution—not necessarily equally, but in proportion to their strengths and weaknesses and the needs of the organization. They have a sense of the type of leader they need to be to succeed in the current environment. They know what they bring to the table and where they need to develop in order to continue adding value. Most importantly, they step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves to hone new skills, communicate and engage differently inside and outside their company to grow professionally.