Do you have what it takes to be a great marketing leader?

Do you have what it takes to be a great marketing leader?

When it comes to leaders there are a few names that regularly crop up. You will have your own favourites. But a different approach is to consider those who write most compellingly about what it takes to be a great leader.

The top three for us are Steve Radcliffe whose book Leadership Plain and Simple brilliantly encapsulates the need for leaders to lead for a future they care about. Brene Brown whose book Daring Greatly opens up why leaders need to bring vulnerability to their interactions and David Whyte whose book The Heart Aroused gets his readers thinking about the need for soul and meaning in the workplace.

The issue for leaders is to nurture and challenge their thinking and if books don’t do it for you then get the audio download or listen to a TED Talk from any of these three. But what in our view makes these three special is their insights, the personal experience they bring to the page and, ultimately, their message of hope.

What we also all enjoy is listening to those leaders who have made big mistakes and the authors above all reveal the traps they have fallen into. And as leadership coaches and consultants ourselves we’ve come up with a few of the most common mistakes that leaders make. You might recognize some of these

  1. Leaders who tell, instruct and demand. They might get obedience from their people but they will never get engagement.
  2. Leaders who don’t listen and who then inevitably leave colleagues feeling frustrated or misunderstood
  3. Leaders who don’t understand the impact they have on others and who leave destruction in their wake
  4. Leaders who always focus on what’s happening now and don’t position themselves for the future  
  5. Leaders who don’t recognise that it’s through their relationships that they get things done

So can anyone become a great leader?  The answer to that is an unequivocal yes. It’s a natural human quality. The real question however is whether people want to lead. It may be easier to wait for other people to tell us what to do but that’s yesterday’s model. Winning organisations today need more people leading, at all levels, in every area of activity.

For senior marketing managers the advice is to look to grow your leadership and ensure you get the support and challenge that will keep you sharp. In this respect look for coaches or mentors who can help you keep your focus and help you shape the future you want. And of course use all the latest social media to follow those leaders who you find most inspiring.

If you want something more formal then we work on the International Marketing Leaders Programme and are also partners to the Marketing Society and Brand Learning and you can find out more about us at

Finally  if you want to make an immediate difference to the people you are leading here are three tips …

  • Find out what your team members care about. People come to work to get their own goals met.
  • When you know what your people want then look for opportunities which match those goals
  • Make sure they then get the credit for the success they deliver. Be a public ambassador for them

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