Leading a Marketing team requires the best qualities of a ‘manager’ and a ‘leader’; you need to be able to get the best from team as well as manage, plan and measure. Great Marketers are market orientated and seek understanding above all else; sound understanding ensures clear communication and informed decisions.
5 characteristics of leadership
Kouzes and Posner (2002) identified 5 characteristics of leadership:
1. Challenging the process – this is about encouraging innovation and acceptable risk taking
2. Inspiring a shared vision – leadership is about setting a vision and leading people to it
3. Enabling others to act – empower others, build strong teams and encourage team work
4. Modeling the way – be who you want others to be
5. Praise and recognition – recognise and reward good work; encourage learning from mistakes
The importance of a team
The 5 characteristics above and the word ‘leadership’ indicate that it is not about an individual, and although we would all like to know everything, we need to recognise the importance of being surrounded by a strong marketing team. A strong team is made up from individuals who each (ideally) have a specialist, complementary set of skills, such as market research, planning, copywriting, communication or online marketing.
Ideally a team will have between 5 and 7 members, even if you are part of a larger team or department. Less than 5 and you may be restricted by knowledge and experience gaps. Teams of this size are more likely to work as one, communication is easier and ‘groups’ are less likely to form.
What traits do the best Marketing leaders have?
When you think of great Marketing leaders, you probably think of Richard Branson, the late Steve Jobs and Alan Sugar. I do too, but I also think that leaders come from all levels in a team and over the years I have worked with many excellent leaders who all shared similar traits, although not necessarily developed to their full potential yet. These traits include:
- Perception and self-awareness
- Optimism and positivity
- Persistence and resilience
- Integrity and ethics
The key to marketing leadership
For me the key thing a Marketing leader must have is high emotional intelligence; which includes a number of the traits above. This has 2 main advantages in leading a marketing team. Firstly high emotional intelligence has a positive effect on your team, meaning people will follow your lead and work hard for you. Second, to a greater or lesser extent, we all use our emotions when we make purchasing decisions; so all marketers need to be skilled at creating an emotional connection with their audience.
The following elements make up emotional intelligence:
A word on Marketing and leadership qualifications
Having worked so hard for the past year on my CIM qualification, it feels only right to mention the importance of education. Although it’s by no means a requirement in leadership, in my experience it does help broaden your knowledge and experience as well as re-enforces motivation and emotional resilience! There are many great educational establishments, I chose to do my diploma online through distance learning, so gaining a Management degree from somewhere like NDNU Online, in my opinion, will only enhance your leadership ability.
A final thought – I have a sticker on my desk which asks ‘ Would I like to work with me?’ this keeps me focused on my leadership style.