Managing vs. Leading Marketing

Being an expert in the symphony and leading it are two different skill sets.

Being an expert in the symphony and leading it are two different skill sets.

Every profession struggles with the same issues as their contributors, who have built so much domain specialization, rise in the organizational ranks and encounter that often desperate need to shift skill sets to those needed to manage a business function. Marketing is no exception. If it isn’t apparent with the overly-creative focus or thin-air metrics that dominate all-too-many marketing organizations, then the artifacts are clearly visible in the alarmingly short tenure of the average CMO, where such a soul is caught jockeying for position somewhere between Sales and the Chief Executive.

And so, while there are so many competent marketers at the director and above level, there are very few competent business leaders amongst them who know how to build and lead the function to be what modern business organization’s need marketing to be. I’m not talking about managing the marketing of a business; the outward campaigns, the branding efforts, the product positioning, etc. I am talking about taking all those things a step further and integrating them into a cohesive business function that bridges the gap between making products and closing deals – I am talking about the management and leadership side of business – the stuff that happens on the inside where the public doesn’t see. And there, I’ve been able to find my niche.

It takes more than being a great marketer to build a great marketing organization.

  • If you are a marketing leader and you can’t articulate the flow of the value creation process that your marketing department uses to meet the needs of your internal and external stakeholders, then you can’t manage the function, measure it or improve it.
  • If you are not sure what the communication requirements, the information and decision-making needs, are amongst the function and intra-organizationally, then you can’t properly execute for long-term success.
  • If you can’t see the organization from the trees, then you can’t build it and shape it into a high-performing unit of competitive advantage for the business, and sooner or later, your value and the value of your team will be brought into question (like the finance guys already don’t think marketing is the black hole of spending…).

Marketing leaders: learn the focus of purpose, mission and vision. Shape and build people and competency. Learn to see the unseen and articulate process. Align your organization for high-performance.


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