The art of leadership
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The art of leadership

Seven ways to become a better marketing leader.

Getting the best out of your team is an old, old problem.

For example, Laozi – the sixth-century BC Chinese anti-authoritarian and founder of Taoism – had a philosophy of leadership that would fit in any modern corporate manual:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Though the context in which we live has changed, the age-old lessons of leadership still apply. Here are seven of the classic principles:

  1. Be more than a boss – be there for your team. As a manager you organise and delegate, but as a leader you support and guide. Make time to hear the concerns of your team – they might have insight into an issue you are as yet unaware of. Be patient and take time to help find solutions to problems that are affecting them.
  2. Communicate. First and foremost, that means being straightforward and honest, but – in line with good marketing practice – you should always remember your audience. Think back to when you were in a junior role: how did you want your boss to talk to you? What would have brought out the best in you?
  3. Encourage a good work/life balance – for you and your team. Marketing isn’t always a nine-to-five job, and there is always “just one more thing”, but helping people to relax and enjoy their work promotes a mentally stimulating environment. Better ideas, better marketing.
  4. Don’t let hope triumph over experience. You’ve got where you are because of your knowledge and expertise from previous campaigns, forming an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Stick to the facts, and don’t allow optimism to cloud your judgement.
  5. Delegate. This is the most important tool in your arsenal. It may be hard, sometimes painful, to do, but you can’t carry everything on your own. Trust in your team and more often than not they will repay that trust tenfold.
  6. Take responsibility. Always give credit where it’s due and hold your hands up if things don’t go to plan. Leading by example will instill these virtues into your colleagues.
  7. “Become who you are!” This phrase – Nietzsche’s imperative from Thus Spoke Zarathustra – is great advice. You have to develop into being a capable leader over time, and the best way to do this is to let your leadership style grow out of your own personality rather than trying to be someone you’re not.

Elevating yourself from boss to leader is a more intense process than most realise. The old techniques will help, but make sure you always walk your own path.

Looking to take your career to the next level? The new CIM Marketing Leadership Programme, which has been designed to provide senior marketers the platform they need to drive meaningful change and business growth, could be the right choise for you.

Lea Raudsepp Course Director CIM
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