It’s time for marketing leaders to step up and join up

In the face of disruption and commoditisation, where traditional product innovation is harder to come by as a source of growth, delivering a superior customer experience is crucial.

To do this effectively, marketing leaders need to step up and lead, not only their function but across their organisation.

In response to a rate of change and complexity that we have never seen before, it has become clear that organisations need to join up to create the customer experiences that will differentiate and drive growth. ‘Easier said than done’ I hear you say - and you would be right. In fact, almost half of all respondents to our latest global study stated that siloed behaviours and ways of working were the greatest barriers to delivering that competitive edge.   

It is the need for customer insight and foresight into this key differentiator that gives marketing leaders of today the licence to lead across the organisation; the licence to step up and to genuinely lead beyond their function. 

In practice, this requires both vertical and horizontal leadership without direct authority, in a complex organisational environment that is competing in a similarly volatile and complex market. We can no longer rely upon our tried and tested methods to deliver growth. 

There is no blueprint to help direct you through this; you have to create your own. One that acts as your compass into uncharted territory.  Navigating this terrain as a leader is demanding and can prove stressful for your teams and the people you work with. It is therefore crucial that, as a leader, you understand and connect with the purpose of it all in a way that joins up your organisation to deliver sustainable growth. 

How do you step up to join up the organisation as a Marketing leader?  

Here are 5 steps to get you going in the right direction:

  1. Reflect on your values, interests and strengths
    Can you say very clearly and confidently what it is that you stand for?  What it is that you are genuinely passionate about?  Then answer the following two questions:

    What is the difference I want to make in the world? 
    What is the future I want to make happen? 

    This is your sense of purpose, you may want to capture it in a statement, but the important thing is that you turn it into action and use it as a source of inspiration for others and your source of renewal as the stress of leading across the organisation builds.

  2. Connect your personal sense of purpose to what matters to your customers, the purpose of your team and your organisation.
    You should be able to draw a metaphorical line that connects them all – this common sense of purpose is important as you look to join up disparate functions.  For some inspiration, hear from Kristien Turner, VP Marketing at HSBC who describes the importance of his purpose.

  3. Create and nurture partnerships
    Joining up in this way is hard and requires big partnerships.  To get these going you need big conversations that if carried out well can lead to significant results so make time for them and seek to understand the things that get in the way of delivering on your purpose.

  4. Reflect regularly and be honest with yourself
    This means being open to the things that are working and not working in order to learn from them and continuously course correct.  If you don’t have a coach, it may be worth considering one.

  5. Learn from others
    Seek out those who are at the top of their game, those you admire and learn from them.

If this has inspired you to develop these 5 steps further, why not truly hone your leadership skills and behaviours on our International Marketing Leaders Programme?

Applications for 2017 are now open for our European programme in the UK and for the Asia programme in Singapore. Please get in touch for further information, or register your interest for IMLP in the US here.

Russell Pocock is Group Leadership Capability Director at Brand Learning and Leader of the Marketing Leaders Programme in partnership with The Marketing Society

Brand Learning has worked in partnership with The Marketing Society for over 14 years to develop and deliver the renowned International Marketing Leaders Programme. A unique development experience for high potential individuals preparing for senior marketing and commercial leadership roles, it is delivered by an impressive selection of eminent business leaders and leadership experts.

BRAND LEARNING: Inspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.