Marketing teams are made up of a unique array of individuals, and team leaders are no different. While there isn't a fixed formula on what makes a good marketing team leader, there are many qualities that top marketing leaders seem to commonly exhibit. These include innate and natural abilities, as well as skills that can be developed over time.
When hiring new team leadership, it is prudent to consider which qualities make an effective team leader maximize chances of success. Additionally, considering one’s potential leadership style and whether it fits in with existing company culture is equally important. Usually, it’s wise to hire for a wide range of leadership styles and cultivate a diverse marketing department. A management panel with varied leadership styles, strengths and skills are more likely to boost an organization’s overall ability to thrive. Keeping this in mind, here are some defining traits of successful marketing team leaders that organizations ought to look out for:
Communication is an essential skill in any leadership position. Marketing team leaders need to communicate especially well, as a large part of their duties involves communicating with their team as well as external clients.
In an article on Forbes that details traits that set marketing leaders apart, William Craig writes, “Team-oriented communication cultivates an environment of open expression that extends to customers, building trust. All benefit when marketing leaders don’t close themselves off.” Open and continuous communication is an important part of the marketing process — necessary for team members to successfully understand and complete tasks.
Communication itself is a broad area, and with multiple different communication styles, marketing team leaders should be able to embody a style that most benefits their team and business. The four basic communication styles include: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. Each style has its own pros and cons and can be relevant in different work scenarios.
For instance, leaders with an aggressive communication style can often be very demanding and difficult to deal with but are also effective in getting people to follow them. The assertive communication style is great for expressing one’s own opinions, while also considering team members’ viewpoints. It is often considered the most effective style for coming to solutions in a way where all stakeholders feel as though they have contributed, yet the leader’s opinions aren’t compromised. Essentially, this makes for a “win-win” situation. The assertive communication style can be useful for marketing team leaders, with HubSpot ranking “assertiveness” as one of the top characteristics for any marketing leads to possess.
HubSpot recently used IBM Watson’s Personality Insights to gauge the top qualities amongst marketing leaders across the board. Surprisingly, their report showed that a sense of adventure or “adventurousness” was a trait that most top leaders scored very highly for. Obviously, in this context “adventurousness” doesn’t mean the desire to go skydiving or climb Mount Everest (though there’s nothing wrong with that)!
Rather, the report states that adventurous marketers are those who “are willing to take risks, try out new strategies, and fearlessly mix up their tactics to see which might earn the most ROI for their businesses.” It makes sense that having a sense of adventure helps marketing team leaders succeed, as this means they are more open to trying new things and break the routine — and when these sorts of risks pay off, they do so in a big way.
Another quality of successful marketing team leaders is the ability to engage. Engagement is essential to maintain client relationships, as well as keep one’s team motivated and productive. When employees, including team leaders, are not engaged, productivity levels tend to drop and burnout becomes a very real possibility. According to Craig (in the Forbes article previously mentioned, above), “Engagement is key to creativity, innovation, and attentiveness in marketing, especially in the mutually beneficial relationship between clients and staff.” In fact, the ability to drive engagement is also necessary for actual marketing efforts and very vital in today’s digitally driven world.
An overlooked part of engaging, especially with one’s team, is empathy. Exhibiting empathy builds trust with one’s employees and clients. In turn, this leads to higher levels of engagement all round. Tips for becoming more empathetic include not making assumptions, using one’s imagination, actively listening and not being afraid of showing vulnerability. Solid leadership will consistently see their teams not just in terms of productivity, but also in terms of their humanity. Marketing leaders who do this will ultimately cultivate the most creative and engaged marketing teams.
These are just some of the qualities that top marketing leaders embody. Organizations would do well to consider these when looking for leadership for their marketing teams.
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