Is the marketing leader the villain?

A demand gen professional emailed us in response to last week’s newsletter and said so. 

It could have been an isolated case of course. 

But something tells us this person is onto something – as uncomfortable as it may be. 

Here’s the point they made: 

The marketing leader sits between Senior Leadership and the Demand Gen function, responding to the pressure from the former by asking the latter: “What’s your plan for more demos?”

Regardless of how frequently this happens, the point reminds us of a critical lesson:

How to nail (marketing) leadership

First, there’s the general point about what good leaders do and don’t do. They don’t simply pass along the same pressure they get hit with. Instead, they:

  • Absorb the pressure and fear coming their way
  • Process the inputs and reality of the situation to get to clarity
  • Inspire and empower their teams to solve real problems—not just tasks

Call it API ?

To be clear, this isn’t necessarily about protecting our teams – it’s about developing the capacity for wrestling the really hard stuff down in an effort to set our teams up to do their best work. 

But before we get too far out of our depth and slide towards Brene Brown’s Daring Leadership territory, let’s move to the specifics of what marketing leaders need to do in this context: 

  • Understand what the business and your team is really up against
  • Drive the conversation about how growth should actually happy now
  • Innovate around story and distribution to set sub-functions up for success

Oops, didn’t mean to hit you with a UDI. 

Anyway, nobody’s perfect – we all falter. 

But if you’re a marketing leader that knowingly passes pain on to your team without the “API” laid out above, we can understand why folks would feel some kind of way. And that would suck. 

We see much more good than bad in today’s marketing leaders though.

We see good intentions, hard work and in many cases real servant leadership

But it’s a ridiculously tough gig. 

For the villain hero to win, they have to be a better version of themselves than ever before and a true partner to the people on their team. 

At the beginning of the year, we also wrote about the two key things we believe all marketing leaders must do for a successful and happy 2023. 

Anyway, here’s to all the marketing leaders working diligently to make sure their orgs have a shot at success.

Oh, and next week we’ll be writing about the biggest marketing objective hiding in plain sight and how to make it happen.