5 Ways to Become a Better Leader in Marketing

The CMO has become a powerful force in the C-suite. Among the many roles tucked under the modern CMO’s cape are growth driver, technology and innovation catalyst, product manager, data miner, customer champion, business developer and finance advisor. These are, of course, in addition to the traditional responsibilities of chief storyteller and marketing expert. Leadership skills have never been more critical to the marketing executive and staying on top has never felt more competitive.

As leaders in marketing executive search, MarketPro understands the sometimes dizzying advancements to this demanding role. Our daily interactions with marketing executive clients and candidates put us in the best position to advise on ways to advance your career, keep you on top of your game and solidify your place in the C-suite.

As the CMO, you wouldn’t be at the level you are today without the skills and experience necessary to adapt and excel to the evolving responsibilities of the job. But, in today’s often volatile marketing environment, you need an edge. Honing your edge requires a commitment to ongoing personal and career development. That’s why the experts at MarketPro have put together this list of five ways to become a better leader in marketing.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~John F. Kennedy

1. Leadership Development Coaching

Leadership coaching is not something most executives seek out. There can be a perceived stigma attached that, to some, suggests that the leader is somehow failing and needs “fixing,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership coaching is an investment in professional growth. Studies have confirmed that executives who pursue professional leadership coaching are viewed as more competent and effective in their jobs. The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefit from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills. Plus, the increased self-awareness, emotional intelligence and confident energy coaching provides overwhelmingly result in higher job satisfaction and intrapersonal wellbeing. Consider a leadership coach if you’re looking to become a better leader and learn how to:

  • Identify the values, principles and beliefs that guide your decisions to create a personal leadership style
  • Craft a development plan that puts your goals and those of your company into action
  • Improve executive presence
  • Become aware of your limitations and blind spots
  • Know how and when to seek feedback to see yourself as others see you
  • Communicate the company culture in a positive way and help your team embrace it
  • Trust, respect and empower your team by leading with empathy, inspiring and lifting up those around you
  • Know when to speak up and when listening will better serve you
  • Remain calm and effective during work crisis or hardship
  • Communicate clearly and concisely
  • Lead by example

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” ~Bob Proctor

2. Mentorship

People generally think of mentoring in terms of how it helps the mentee develop and grow professionally, but in reality the mentor has just as much to gain. Mentoring is by definition leadership. The experience of guiding another in the ways of business, communication and leadership naturally requires self-reflection and allows the mentor to take a look at their own strengths and weaknesses in these areas. Self-assessment is widely regarded as a cornerstone of leadership development.

Mentoring has been proven to reduce anxiety, build confidence and empowerment, improve objectivity and advance communication skills on both sides of the relationship. Developing your leadership skills while reaping these powerful benefits sounds like a no brainer. If you’re still on the fence about whether mentoring is for you, it may help to know that it’s a tactic fully embraced by some of the most successful business leaders and top companies in the world. Steve Jobs famously mentored Mark Zuckerberg, while Warren Buffett served as mentor to Bill Gates. Even Oprah Winfrey has stated she wouldn’t be where she is today without the mentorship of Maya Angelou. Clearly, they are onto something big, and the stats back it up.

  • 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, as well as 100% of Fortune 50s
  • Those who serve as a mentor are 6X more likely to be promoted to a higher position
  • Employees involved in mentoring are promoted 5x more often than those not involved in mentoring
  • 84% of CEOs in a Harvard Business Review says mentors had helped them avoid costly mistakes
  • 89% of those who have been mentored will also go on to mentor others

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” ~African Proverb

3. Networking

Connecting with other professionals can lead to introductions and relationships that are beneficial to your personal and professional growth, so surround yourself with the best. It’s always a good idea to keep your professional network current and nourished. This includes relationships with key players within your company and industry, as well as diverse leaders across the internet and outside your geographical familiarity. Professionals outside of your industry can help you think outside your box, and their seemingly unrelated experiences and skills can bring surprising perspectives.

Local and national professional associations provide resources for acquiring new skills and staying on top of trends, while providing some of the best online and in-person networking opportunities in the industry. Below are six mainstay associations every marketer should look into.

  • AdFed/AAFAmerican Advertising Federation is the only advertising organization that includes members across all disciplines and career levels working to promote and improve the advertising industry
  • AMAAmerican Marketing Association has been assisting in the personal and professional development of marketers and working to advance the science and ethical practices of the marketing industry since 1937
  •  ANA (formerly DMA/Direct Marketing Association)—Association of National Advertisers represents over 20,000 influential brands and helps members become more effective marketers, build stronger brands and drive industry and societal change
  • AAAAAmerican Association of Advertising Agencies’ goal is to “foster, strengthen and improve the advertising agency business; to advance the cause of advertising as a whole; and to aid member agencies in operating more efficiently and profitably” through ad industry expertise, marketing research, training and professional development
  • MMAMobile Marketing Association, established to lead the growth of mobile marketing, advertising and related technologies, operates on a global level and focuses on establishing mobile as a core marketing industry component
  • INBInternational Network Business is a structure that brings together people with the aim of achieving a better balance between professional and personal life through taking advantage of better opportunities and connections

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~Benjamin Franklin

4. Marketing Education

Staying on the cutting-edge in this industry is challenging for even the most dedicated marketing professional, so it’s important to review your skills and knowledge periodically. As a leader in your company, you should invest in educating yourself on all the tools and resources currently being used in your organization; and as the marketing expert, you must have at least working knowledge of the myriad digital tools of the day.

In addition to attending conventions and seminars, you may want to consider advancing your education on a grander scale. A Marketing MBA, designed specifically for marketers in higher level positions, is a multidisciplinary course of study that usually includes several core MBA courses, but primarily focuses on marketing leadership, strategy, analytics, operations, market research and more. Whether an advanced degree (MBA or a Marketing MBA) is the right option for you obviously depends on the specifics of your company and career goals, but with the increasing prominence of marketing in overall business operations, it’s something the ambitious CMO should look at.

Online certifications are probably the most utilized educational opportunities and certainly the most convenient. Courses for every skill level in every facet of marketing are readily available and often completely free of charge, and you can learn real-world practical skills from proven industry experts. Your biggest challenge will be deciding which courses to tackle first.

10 Top Digital Marketing Education Resources

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

5. Presentation/Media Coaching

Marketers have to be able to tell a story in an engaging and persuasive manner, and your ability in this area can have a lasting impact on your personal success and your company’s reputation. It’s been said that people won’t remember the details of your presentation, but telling a good story means they’ll remember you.

CMOs are frequently required to present marketing plans and proposals to the board, occasionally speak at conferences and trade shows, and potentially address mass audiences on major news platforms. Expert interaction with journalists, influencers and even clients is an important skill to have in your marketing executive repertoire.

Whether “public speaking” fills you with anxiety and terror or you’re a regular Tony Robbins, you may want to consider engaging the services of a professional coach. These valuable resources will educate you on the inner workings of various media channels, so you can make the most of what will likely be a very condensed opportunity. Keep in mind that these are not techniques that can be learned overnight, with courses ranging from four hours to over four months. So, don’t be caught off guard. Add media coaching to your professional development strategy today and learn to:

  • Communicate clearly and confidently utilizing different interview and speaking techniques
  • Assess your audience for maximum impact
  • Organize your thoughts and materials
  • Utilize natural and authoritative body language
  • Deliver your message clearly and effectively
  • Anticipate the Q&A
  • Overcome stage fright

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” ~Pablo Picasso

Highly effective C-suite leaders never—never ever—stop growing. They remain humble enough to recognize that there is always more to learn and continue to explore better ways of achieving their leadership goals. In your ongoing pursuit of learning and growing, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Put something on your leadership development plan that scares you. Commit to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and growth by learning something new every single day. It will serve you personally, professionally and even spiritually.

MarketPro Inc. is the leading high-end marketing executive search firm delivering top-performing innovative marketers. As a team of former marketing professionals, we are uniquely qualified to separate A players from everyone else. Celebrating our 26th year, we are a certified woman-owned business with headquarters in Atlanta and clients nationwide. Visit us on LinkedIn.