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Marketing Leaders Must Get Results

Senior marketing leaders these days are in a vortex of complexity, needing to adapt to a new world with greater expectations for performance. Conversations with senior marketing executives reveal that not only have their roles changed and continue to change, but that pace is accelerating.

Technology, globalization, and having access to Big Data have completely altered the paradigm. Greater insights and capabilities have opened up many new possibilities for marketing to understand, connect with, and engage their constituents. Power, however, has shifted to consumers and customers. Expectations are higher, as marketing drives a change agenda across the enterprise.

Succeeding in this environment requires more than just skills and experience. Research has shown that 50% of performance is driven by competencies, those behaviors and aptitudes that lead to success. Korn/Ferry has identified three core competencies that senior marketing leaders need today to help transform their businesses. These competencies, which should be part of the talent development of marketing leaders, are:

Retain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties…”

 –Jim Collins, author, Good to Great

Focusing on action and outcomes  

Today’s marketplace requires speed and agility. There’s no room for perfectionism, procrastination, and risk avoidance, which hamper senior marketing executives’ ability to take quick and timely action. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) and other senior marketing leaders must demonstrate tangible business results that align with the goals of the whole organization, with a strong financial orientation and a focus on generating revenue.

The core competency of “focusing on action and outcomes” enables marketing executives to drive innovation and progress with energy, initiating action based on what is often incomplete data, while never losing sight of the bottom line. Marketing leaders need clarity about the vision as they maintain momentum, while always considering the next best course of action as new data emerge.

Focusing on action and outcomes also requires measuring everything that’s being done, especially where money is being spent—such as tracking return on marketing investment (ROMI). Leaders must also instill in others a sense of urgency and create a performance culture around them.

Those with a high level of competency in focusing on action and outcomes (which is fairly common among leaders, and is one of the easiest to develop) keep the targets in their sights. They evaluate courses of action first (in other words, they aim and then fire), and if they’re not successful the first time are nimble enough to adjust. They’re resilient.

Marketing executives who lack this competency are hesitant and slow to act on opportunities. They don’t initiate and are easily distracted instead of finishing what is important. In contrast, those who overuse focusing on action and outcomes never give up, even when the evidence is contrary to their approach, which can leave a lot of damaged people in their wake.

Once again, it comes down to balance among all the core competencies, in order to operate in a highly effective internal ecosystem. Focusing on action and outcomes allows executives to keep a strong bottom-line orientation, while remaining agile and willing to make the necessary adjustments along the way.

More than ever in today’s dynamic marketplace, the competency of focusing on action and outcomes helps CMOs and other senior marketing leaders to demonstrate an eagerness to take initiatives and adopt an overall results-oriented mind-set. With this key aptitude, they take timely actions to generate desired outcomes, emphasize metrics and results, and keep their eye on the bottom line.

  Caren Fleit leads Korn/Ferry International‘s Global Marketing Center of Expertise. She is a Senior Client Partner in the firm’s Consumer/Retail practice, based in New York.


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