There are countless books, articles, LinkedIn threads, and conversations on “Leadership”, discussing key qualities, best practices, and tips. The more we read about being a leader and the more we learn about it, the better leader we become, right? Generally, yes. Great leaders are students of leadership and see it as a continual path of learning, trial-and-error, understanding, and refinement.
Great marketing leaders are no different.
To inspire and motivate your team, marketing leaders need to find a basis that resonates for all and precludes none…appealing to a personal and emotional component in each person on the team. They need to balance marketing and operational expertise with integrity, passion, and caring.
Sadly, it seems or at least feels, that as technology has advanced and business pressures accelerate, we are losing the desire or willingness to reward great leaders who possess the ability to lead a team without losing sight of the human connection.
From my experience, great marketing leaders have five qualities in common that enable them to uniquely lead high impact marketing groups –
- Ownership and Accountability: This goes first because it supports all others. In the time that I’ve managed marketing teams, ownership has been one of the core qualities that top performers have. Knowing this, leaders need to instill a culture of accountability, expecting each team member to own their work – communicating progress, managing issues, and above all, meeting objectives. Your team has to know you’ll be there for them through the good and the bad times. That doesn’t mean you absolve people from making mistakes or ignore crappy work/effort, but it does mean you take responsibility for the big picture, act with integrity, and present things in an honest but balanced manner.
- Leading by Example: You can’t be an aloof leader, someone that’s never around and incapable of getting your hands dirty. One of the best ways to lead is by example – pitching in where needed, lending a helping hand, and making sure that the work you do (and projects approved and assigned) is clearly understood by your team. Doing the job, participating in projects, and collaborating as a peer will showcase your marketing abilities and expertise. Credibility, approachability, and teaming will soar.
- Resourcefulness: You have a mindset to look at what’s in front of you and are able to use a little ingenuity, individually or for the team, to meet desired outcomes. Resourceful leaders are open-minded, looking at all possibilities. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert in all areas but are able to streamline the orchestration of needs throughout the organization efficiently.
- Encouragement: A leader who isn’t the team’s biggest cheerleader isn’t a leader. Great marketing leaders must have passion and drive. They believe in what the team is doing and what the company is doing. Passion, enthusiasm, and positive thinking leads to so much, and you can inspire so much in others through your own passion and excitement.
- Empathy: You must truly care (and be perceived as caring) about your team’s personal development, happiness, and fears. Many marketing leaders have lost sight of this, focusing solely on business objectives, schedules, revenue, growth, etc. You have to know your people. You don’t have to be best friends or even socialize outside of work, but you do have to know what makes them tick. You need to know something about their personal lives because their lives outside work matter. Their lives outside work drive a great deal of their success (or lack of) at work. Keep track of simple things: birthdays, marriages, children, etc. The more you know your people the more common ground you’re likely to find, the more you’ll be able to connect. The human connection is crucial for highly motivated, open, and successful teams.
Unsurprisingly, these traits apply to everyone on a team but matter most to the CMO and those leading marketing functions. If you are leading teams or projects, are you practicing each?