My early marketing leadership experiences included heavy-handed dictation of superlative messaging that the organization was expected to abide by. While this strategy sometimes could achieve alignment and convey strength, it often came across as forced and arrogant. Moreover, it prevented organizational clarity and willingness to confront internal weakness.
But things are changing. I now find marketing leadership to be more an art of humility, affinity and open confrontation of weakness. Instead of instilling forceful brand and messaging guidelines, I find that the most effective marketing leadership comes from instilling strong values and good intentions â€“ up, down and across the organization. Instead of acting the sergeant, I now often find myself inspiring colleagues to search within, and then channel their good intentions through personal and authentic actions and communications. Itâ€™s a decentralized model that requires trust and emphasizes visibility and accountability.
Iâ€™m sure part of this is my own maturity. But I also think it has a lot to do with a growing hunger among customers to do business with companies that act and talk this way. I also know that my ability to evolve and practice this higher form of marketing is contingent upon the progressive management team I work with. Iâ€™m lucky for that.
Marketing leadership is shifting from command-and-control to cultivate-and-coach.