“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”
What is marketing leadership?
It seems to me, that if one is not forging a new path, then perhaps there is no marketing ‘leadership,’ but instead marketing ‘followship.’ Just following the path forged by the last person may be oh, so easy, but not nearly as fruitful.
By definition, we’re hired as leaders to find – or even build – the path, and hurdle any terrifying obstacles that come our way.
Marketing takes courage. Leadership takes courage. When leaders, or others who masquerade as leaders, find themselves in the most coveted job in the organization, do they have the courage it takes to succeed? Or do they choose comfort to keep that salary coming in and avoid confrontation or being controversial?
What does courage look like in marketing?
“The obstacle is the path.”
~ Zen Proverb
The fundamentals of marketing may be the same, but the tactics and methodology in marketing are changing – and will continue to change rapidly in this age of technology.
But, marketers need to be patient because many times we’re teaching a non-marketer, who is a decision maker, about a new tactic. And moving a client, a company or a leader to a new way of thinking takes time, which means we need to be thoughtful about how this non-marketer views risk.
What did marketing look like a few decades ago? Traditional media, direct mail, events, public relations and research. Research was used to drive key messaging that was blasted over the media to engage those on the receiving end.
Those were the days, my friend!
Today’s marketing looks much different, and is centered more around the customer – with that customer being the one to decide whether or not to engage with the brand. Research is still a driver, but the tools to distribute the message and engage might be a mixture of direct and indirect tactics.
A Constant State of Flux
You might be a great marketer, but marketing today is very fluid. It changes constantly. One of the first questions I ask a potential job seeker is: Are you a self-learner?
Unlike in many areas of business, where you apply a formula, in marketing, there may be some formula ingredients, but there is also innovation! There is risk! There is constant change because in the digital economy things change fast. What worked yesterday, might not be as effective today. What works tomorrow might be a new invention not even thought of today.
People who lead marketers must be open to new ideas. They must encourage risk-taking to find new, innovative techniques that lead to more efficiency – and more effectiveness. Marketing is a fast business cycle, and with new media platforms, marketing speed and efficiency, and marketing nimbleness are all more attainable.
8 Things to Test Your Courage Meter
- Do you think you can find a better way?
- Are you willing to take risks?
- Can you put a business case together?
- Are you willing to lose your job?
- Are you willing to take a stand on an important issue?
- Are you willing to challenge the status quo?
- Can you identify those obstacles and overcome them?
- Can you mentor others around you to become leaders too?
If you’re interviewing for a marketing leadership role, I encourage you to initiate a discussion on the ability to change the organization. The ability to affect culture. What is true today won’t be true tomorrow. Marketers today need to be risk-embracing and need to sell ideas to the organization that can change the future.