Transformational Leadership and the CMO: The Defining Role

By Debbie Qaqish

qimono / Pixabay

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Peter Drucker

Today’s CMO is charged with being a transformational leader- whether they’re ready or not. From stewarding the firm through a total digital transformation to evolving marketing from a cost center to a revenue center, CMOs are now the ultimate change agents. Yet most marketing leaders are totally unprepared for this new responsibility and are falling short of expectations.

For example, close to 80% of CMOs report experiencing intense pressure to demonstrate ROI with credible revenue results, yet less than a third report on these types of metrics. This is in spite of the fact we are drowning in technology and tools that fully enable marketing as a revenue center. So, where’s the disconnect between expectations and reality? One word: leadership.

CMO leadership is something I think about… a lot. As I work with senior marketing executives, I see a significant lack of transformational leadership. Part of the deficit arises from the background of the CMO and how we used to run business. For many years, the CMO was valued for their ability to drive the traditional marketing measures such as company positioning, messaging, creative, and communications.

In addition, many CMOs are hired as a ‘special project’ and aren’t empowered to step in as a transformational leader. In our digital world, this is no longer good enough. As marketing leaders strive to respond to the dizzying array of changes, leading with a transformational style becomes a job requirement. Employing transformational leadership acknowledges the sweeping changes required and provides a framework for leading change.

Defining transformational leadership

The essence of a transformational leadership is the ability to motivate others to higher than expected levels of performance and to make extraordinary things happen. Often called ‘quiet leaders’, the transformational leader (TL) leads by example and demonstrates courage, confidence, and willingness to make sacrifices for needed change. These are big words, so let us break it down and apply to the CMO.

Laser-focused vision and communication

The first attribute of a TL includes a tenacious and laser-focused vision for the future – well before others. TLs see a need to change the current system and use a finely tuned and compelling vision as a starting point. They seek to change existing thoughts, techniques, and goals for better results, for better business and for the greater good. As a strong communicator, the TL acts like a good politician with a well-crafted stump speech that they deliver relentlessly.

I’ve seen strong marketing leaders with vision for the future of marketing in a digital world and marketing as a revenue center. Where they begin to fail is in the lack of quality communication. I recently spoke with a group of CEOs about what they really thought about marketing and where they see a gap in their knowledge of revenue marketing. The feedback was simple and unanimous – the CMO has to take a significant amount of time to fully educate and gain buy-in to the vision. Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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