Bold marketing leadership

Bold marketing leadership

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By Matt Bird

As a new member of The Marketing Society I'm excited about connecting with a new group of people. I have a lot to learn from this community and I hope a lot to offer also. By way of introduction I'd like to share some of my thinking around bold leadership.

Bold marketing leadership derives from a combination of your 'positive attitude about self' and your 'positive attitude about others'. This attitude relates to the way you value people, your degree of ease with yourself and others, and your positive energy flow.

Before you read on, ask yourself the following: ‘Do I have a high or low attitude about others?’ and ‘Do I have a high or low attitude about myself?’

Intimidated marketing leaders
Marketing leaders with a high 'attitude about others' and who struggle with a low 'attitude about self' can battle with feelings of intimidation. They find themselves comparing and contrasting themselves to other people which produces feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. They may also wrestle with ‘impostor syndrome’ - the sense of not knowing how they have found themselves in their current role and feeling inexperienced and ill equipped for the job. They are concerned about being ‘found out’ for being an ‘impostor'. Others may see them as behaving tentatively and holding back in situations where bold marketing leadership is required.

The challenge for a marketing leader who wrestles with intimidation is to ‘increase inner legitimacy’ by strengthening their self-esteem, self-belief, and self-mastery. One of the ways they can take steps to achieve this is by taking out regular time and space from every day life to focus on their strengthening inner world. As a result they become more comfortable, content and confident with themselves and others.

Arrogant marketing leaders
Marketing leaders with a low 'attitude about others' and a high 'attitude about self' have a tendency to behave in ways that other people may view as arrogant. They have an inclination to think more highly of themselves than the people around them and consequently project an 'air of superiority'. They are generally oblivious to their over developed self orientation. Sometimes a leader exhibits ‘unintended arrogance’ because of a fundamental lack of confidence. They over rely on what they know rather than who they are and consequently over prepare, over talk and over compensate for a hidden inadequacy.

The challenge for a marketing leader in this position is to ‘lower self orientation’ and to develop a worldview that is centred around other people. One of the paths that leads away from arrogance towards humility is failure - failing three or four times has a way of diminishing arrogance.

Timid marketing leaders
Marketing leaders who have a low 'attitude about others' and a low 'attitude about self' are timid or even fearful. These feelings of low self belief and low trust in others can result in 'action paralysis’ where decisions become risks to be avoided in favour of playing it safe. Timidity becomes a barrier to personal performance and consequently career progress. Timid marketing leaders can also expend significant emotional energy being concerned about what other people think of them and so prevent bold marketing leadership.

The challenge for a timid marketing leader who wants to become bold is to create a ‘paradigm shift’ of thinking and behaviour. A highly trusted friend, coach or mentor can help make the difference for someone who desires change.

Bold marketing leaders
Marketing leaders with a high 'attitude about others' and a high 'attitude about self' are viewed by others as confident and bold. They are comfortable being transparent about themselves and are committed to becoming the best possible version of themselves or what I call the ‘unedited self’. Bold marketing leaders have a healthy appetite for risk and find themselves doing what many people hesitate to do.

Bold marketing leaders recognise that their outer world is a reflection of their inner world. They refuse to accept the mantra, ‘I am so busy I don’t have time to think’ and regularly cultivate and schedule time and space to think. Common practices include walking alone, journaling thoughts and general mindfulness. For example one bold business leader schedules time away from the office once a month. In the morning they spend their time reflecting and learning from the previous month and after a spot of lunch they take a walk to dream and set priorities for the month ahead.

Leadership challenge
I asked you to consider: ‘Do I have a high or low attitude about others?’ and ‘Do I have a high or low attitude about myself?’ Well now for the ‘leadership challenge’… How would you answer those questions again if you were having a bad day? Or if you were in a room full of people you don’t know? Or starting work with a client in an unfamiliar sector? Or began working in an international culture that is not your own? What are the factors that affect your ability to offer confident and bold leadership?

Context has a powerful impact on our 'attitude about others' and our 'attitude about self' and therefore our ability to exercise bold marketing leadership. The situations you are going to face today are a powerful test of whether your leadership is based upon ‘what you know’ about your outer world or ‘who you are’ in your inner world.


  • What causes you to be anything other than bold in your marketing leadership?
  • Is it a recent or long standing obstacle?
  • What can you do to remove your barriers?
  • What change do you want to make in order to become a bolder marketing leader?

Matt Bird is the creator of Relationology. To find out more about Matt's work and business visit his website.

Author: The Marketing Society
Posted: 24 Feb 2014
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A very useful singular insight thank you. Interesting to see that although there may be a broad paradigm, it can change through ones career and in different roles. Roles that make you most happy are actually ones where you think highly of those around you as well as yourself. Though I'm not sure if that is cause or effect....
Posted: 06 Apr 2014

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