April 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM
This post is written for Marketing Leaders newly hired in an organization and those who want to keep pace in the industry. The first question new marketing leaders ask themselves is, “how good is my team?”
You may have a team with talent and strong capabilities or you may have dinosaurs. Despite what you inherit, your #1 goal entering the organization is to drive results. How do the best in class marketing leaders drive results with their current team? Here’s what the best do.
Below are the top 3 common attributes top marketing leaders have to keep your team from falling behind. You can download a full list of them here.
The Top 3 Marketing Leadership Attributes that Drive Results
1. Create a Culture of Best Practice Adoption
15 - 20% of your time should be dedicated to providing strategic leadership to your team. Reading, attending conference and gaining insights from peers provide a steady flow of best practices. Sharing the best practices with your team is the lifeblood of helping your team to keep pace in a fast changing industry.
Share relevant articles with the team and decide together if new trends are worth testing. Collaborate, brainstorm and build a go to market test plan within your process. Often times when you collaborate on ideas from best practices, doing so will result in a grand slam idea. This will drive new capabilities with your team which is a leading indicator of greatness.
Reinforce a culture of best practice adoption by vetting team recommendations through the lens of best practices. Ask your team to support their recommendations by researching best practices.
2. Clarity of Organization Focus
Organizations thrive when focused on the most essential goals that drive the business. Great marketing leaders of world class organizations understand the laws of focus. Too many priorities will translate to zero priority. Sacrifice secondary ‘nice to haves’ on the altar of mediocrity. Instead drive a strong clarity of purpose.
A great example of this principal was evident in a world class B2B company I studied. I interviewed the marketing manager responsible for social media platforms. He reported that his VP of Marketing gave him one goal, and one goal only:
“Drive qualified leads. Don’t come back and tell me how many people liked our Facebook page. The mission of our team is to drive qualified leads for the sales force. I want you to drive net new inquiries with our social media platforms. Nothing more, nothing less.”
The goal was to drive inquiries from posts and shares. The success metric for the social media program was Quality of Qualified Inquiries. The manager still tracked the number of retweets, favorited tweets, follows, likes, etc. But these interactions were tracked only to the extent that they served as leading indicators. The only thing that mattered to his VP of Marketing was new leads. Everything else was noise. The end result was a high volume of qualified leads driven from social media.
In reality the VP of Marketing had a strong understanding of branding principals. She made sure that the social marketing manager followed brand guidelines. She understood the value of reinforcing the brand through social media. Yet she didn’t allow her manager to get mesmerized with activity. She gave him a clear purpose and he succeeded.
3. Engage the Team
Delegation is a fundamental competency for a marketing leader. Trust in your managing direct reports is important. However, this can be abused and lead to stress fractures in the team.
An engaged marketing leader understands key tasks of the team. There are three opportunities for high-leverage engagement:
New Capability Acquisition – teams struggle when adding a net new capability. If it’s important enough to add, then it’s important to be involved.
Major Initiative Execution – Every marketing leader can list the 2-3 projects that most impact their success. Without micro-managing, spot check results and vet progress reports. Maintain a thorough understanding of the challenges. Help the team remove roadblocks. Set clear expectations among the entire marketing team of the priority involved in supporting the effort. Close engagement minimizes failure.
Process Adoption – Help your team produce world class results by staying close to process utilization. Challenge your team to point out the benefits they expect from standard operating procedures. Ask your team, “Why are we doing this? What benefit does it provide to the end product? How does it help our customers?” Validate understanding among the team to make sure they are not just going through the motions.
Where you find break downs in adoption hold your team accountable to providing solutions. People don’t exist to serve process, process exists to serve people. Keep the marketing processes of your team relevant to those who execute.
How good your team is depends on how good of a leader you are. Become a top leader and drive results by being strong in these top 3 attributes. Download this list of over 30 marketing leader competencies to measure yourself against to be a top leader.
Posted by John Koehler