Identifying Best Practices for Leadership in a New Age of Marketing
A decent leader is one that keeps the status quo and manages. A great leader is a forward thinker and inspires. – Oswald Méndez, New Majority Ready
Transparency. Empathy. Innovation. Passion. Human. The road to becoming the next great Marketing leader is paved by traits that require more than just fine-tuned instincts and well-refined strategies. It requires a human approach to management, one that inspires buy-in from your most important resource, and allows you to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
To find this path towards true Marketing leadership, I spoke to marketers of various levels from various industries to identify three key traits of excellent leaders.
Transparency & The Human Element
Radical Candor. Oswald Méndez, co-founder and CEO of New Majority Ready, a marketing and multimedia consulting practice targeted at serving the burgeoning intersection of America’s ever-growing diversity and its equally ever-evolving digital landscape, is fond of using the term to describe what he feels reflects the importance of leading with transparency. “You must be able to rally your team while being empathetic to their needs and balancing those needs with the business and also providing radical candor in terms of feedback and growth opportunities,” said Méndez. Years of management experience with the likes of MundoFox, BBC America, and McCann have taught Méndez to connect at the human level with each member of his team in order to truly connect with them and keep them motivated.
When combined, honesty and empathy typically beget the foundation for a culture of collaboration, one that secures buy-in from your talent and enables you to maximize their potential. Fostering this kind of culture is the first key to leading a team that produces new and innovative ideas every day because it frees your team up to do what they do best. In the words of Matteo Trevisani, a Digital Content Associate at CONCACAF, “The thing I value the most is the support from my supervisors.”
These ideas are summarized by Giselle Rodriguez, a Digital Marketing Specialist at Oracle, “Great leaders are collaborative, empathetic, flexible and want their employees to succeed.”
Creativity & Inspiration
Marketers thrive on their innate creativity, but for marketing leaders, this creativity must go beyond innovative campaigns and slick ads. “Being a successful marketer does not guarantee that someone will be a successful marketing leader,” says Anthony Miyazaki, a brand strategist and Marketing educator. As Florida International University’s Executive Director of Marketing and Analytics, Miyazaki has come across his fair share of Marketing leaders and identified a critical differentiator for effective Marketing leaders, “they’re creative from a process design perspective, meaning that they can build systems that produce consistent results.”
In order to turn their own creative talent into effective management skills, prospective leaders must develop an ability to connect talent to objectives, according to Miyazaki, by assigning “those talents effectively and efficiently, focusing more on processes and critical tasks than on organizational charts and job position duties,” effectively putting talent in the position to succeed. This is seconded by Ana Barrera, a Marketing Manager, who says leaders need to engage with their teams “day-to-day and ensure they have what they need.”
Passion & The Always Learning Mentality
Marketing leaders carry a certain amount of responsibility with them, to their teams and other stakeholders, in the eyes of Méndez. This responsibility requires leaders to never stop learning and challenging themselves, because the goal is, as Méndez relates, to fight obsolescence and complacency. Furthermore, not only do passion and curiosity allow you to continue growing as a leader, they help you inspire your teams to do the same and continue developing themselves. As Rodriguez says, “some of the traits I value the most are the Always-Learning Mentality and the ability to connect with people.”
Marketers must also acknowledge that perfectly linear progression just does not exist in the real world. Ultimately, as Méndez puts it, “you have permission to fail.” This is true not only for individual leaders themselves but for their team, as illustrated by Trevisani’s gratitude towards his supervisors, “without their empowerment, nothing would be possible.”
Leading with passion and pursuing new knowledge every day is the last key towards becoming a true Marketing leader who pushes their team and their organization to new innovative heights.
The Big Picture
Great Marketing leaders are excellent communicators, avid learners, creative in new ways, and consistently passionate. But, as Méndez puts it, “Above all, [Marketing leaders must] have a sense of humor and be human.” Ultimately, a marketer’s journey towards becoming a great leader depends on their ability to make human connections and inspire their teams.