Marketing leaders must adopt new skills, rooted in more modern collaborative leadership styles, in order to successfully lead an agile team today, according to Gartner, Inc. To help overcome this challenge, Gartner has identified seven practices for CMOs and other marketing leaders to adopt and evolve their agile leadership skills.
“The agile approach is still new for even the most seasoned CMOs,” said Elizabeth Shaw, research director at Gartner. “Traditional leadership practices are not going to drive the change needed to survive today. To shift to agile methods, the modern CMO must have the ability to awaken, harness and develop trust and commitment from their organization. This means having the right balance of hard skills and soft skills.”
According to Gartner, CMOs must lead by example by embracing, exercising and communicating the following seven practices:
1. Develop Trust: Trust goes a long way in promoting a collaborative environment for agile teams to thrive. It’s an ongoing effort that, if nurtured and maintained, will help to break down barriers and encourage collaborative problem solving. CMOs must be responsible for fostering the development of trust between team members, themselves and peers.
2. Create and Share Vision: CMOs must craft an authentic and clear vision to sell into the organization to drive change. Equally important, employees’ roles and goals should be clearly defined to support that vision. The best vision work is done collaboratively with peers, executives and partners to identify all opportunities and threats. It should be viewed as a living organ, vital to the body of the organization — one that is constantly nurtured and updated to keep the organization moving forward.
3. Hone Soft Skills: Lead with empathy, creativity and compassion. In today’s ever-evolving environment, these skills are critical for being an effective CMO. The ability to explain a person’s point of view and motivation is key to eliminating biases, making better decisions and motivating team members. This requires sincerity and authenticity.
4. Be a Student Leader and Share Authority: The best leaders are also students — constantly open, eager and without preconceptions when exploring something new. CMOs must learn to share leadership authority with modern oversight.
5. Constantly Calibrate: Running an agile marketing organization means the CMO must be engaged and aware at all times. This means constantly evaluating the big picture and the details. Agile marketing requires disciplined and defined work styles and realistic goal orientation and capability-based contribution. CMOs going agile need to optimize and calibrate projects and resources with available data and analytics, while also investing in digital infrastructure that supports agile and collaborative teams.
6. Build a Culture of Collaboration: Constant and open communication is the blood flow that keeps this living organ alive. CMOs must stimulate and coach each person individually and the team collectively — ensuring all voices are heard and considered. Collaboration is more than just “working together.” It means sourcing ideas, evaluating approaches and discussing among team members how they will share work.
7. Reward Individual and Team Outcomes: CMOs must reward team members, individually, and the team collectively for the work done toward the achievement of business outcomes. This is one of the most delicate endeavors for leaders, as each person has different reward and recognition expectations. Great leaders make sure they customize the type of recognition they provide to each member of their team.
Additional details on leading an agile marketing organization are available to Gartner for Marketers clients in the upcoming webinar, "Agile Marketing in 4 Steps," on October 17, 2018 – and in the report “CMO Perspective: 7 Key Practices to Successfully Lead Today’s Agile Marketing Organization.”