7 minute read

Leadership Lessons From A Marketing Executive

BY: Olivia Soria

Leadership and marketing. Two different worlds - or are they?


Spending years in the industry has taught me that there is nothing more critical than effective leadership. As any business expert will tell you, there's much to learn from studying leadership even if you're not yet in a leadership position. Leadership principles are universal and hold true whether you're running a multibillion-dollar corporation or leading a team of two. And nowhere is this truer than in modern management.

In the business world, developing leadership skills for marketing experts is essential to maximize their potential and contribution to the organization's growth. Some of the best marketing executives leverage leadership styles to get results and have a tangible vision of where they would like to lead their teams. They are also experts at communicating that vision in a way that attracts and retains top talent because articulating and executing a compelling vision creates a sense of purpose within the marketing team and aligns the entire organization toward a common goal.

As marketing professionals, we can learn many things from those who lead their teams and organizations. Here are some executive leadership lessons that have helped me throughout my career:

1. Work Hard Even When No One Is Watching

Hard work involves investing time, energy, and focus into tasks or goals, which requires a strong work ethic and the dedication to give your best effort consistently. It also entails continuous learning and skill development because the business landscape is continuously evolving, and only by investing time and effort into honing your abilities would you become more competent and effective in your career.

Unlike other technical fields of work, marketing is not an exact science because we work with people – and people are prone to changing their minds and behaviors in response to stimuli. Most often than not, you would need to go through several trials and errors before finding a strategy that works for the business, so hard work also means that you must be persistent and resilient. Do not give up easily when faced with challenges or setbacks because successful leaders understand that these are inevitable, so they use their determination to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.

Additionally, work hard not for recognition but for yourself. Hard work helps build character, promotes self-discipline, and creates a strong sense of accomplishment when you see your product or brand being embraced by your customers. Find satisfaction in the realization that you helped improve people’s lives as your product solved their problems, and let that be your reward.

2. Surround Yourself With People Who Are Smarter Than You

Surrounding yourself with intelligent individuals doesn't mean diminishing your own value or potential. Instead, it demonstrates your humility and the ability to acknowledge your limitations, as it takes a strong leader to recognize and leverage the strengths of others. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or threatened, effective leaders create an environment where everyone's contributions are valued and appreciated.

Being around individuals who are smarter than you also creates opportunities for continuous learning and personal growth, where you can benefit from observing their techniques, approaches, and solutions to various challenges. Such an environment often results in innovative solutions and improved outcomes as you leverage the team's collective intelligence to tackle complex problems more effectively.

As each person brings unique experiences and knowledge, you get access to various perspectives and insights, leading to more well-rounded decision-making and problem-solving. The diversity of thought in the group can help uncover new ideas, identify blind spots, and challenge assumptions, which are all important when creating and testing different marketing strategies.

3. Complement Each Others' Strengths And Weaknesses

As a marketer, it is too easy to get caught up in your area of expertise that it becomes your go-to solution to every problem, and it can close your eyes to the possibility that a colleague or team member could come up with a better answer. This is why understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members is crucial to effective collaboration.

When one team member struggles in a particular area, others can provide support and bridge the gap, strengthening the team's ability to achieve its goals collectively. Awareness enables team members to focus on leveraging their strengths to maximize their contributions, while identifying areas for improvement allows individuals to seek guidance, training, or support from colleagues or leaders, benefitting both the individual and the overall performance of the team.

By setting an example of continuous self-improvement, you can foster a culture of honesty and growth within the team. This self-awareness sets the stage for helping team members recognize their strengths and weaknesses, empowering them to contribute their best to the team's success.

4. Personal Branding Is An Important Part Of Leadership

In a nutshell, your personal brand is the unique combination of skills, experiences, and personality traits that you showcase to others. It represents how you promote yourself, communicate your value, and distinguish yourself from others in your professional or personal life, clearly and consistently representing who you are and what you stand for.

A solid personal brand amplifies a leader's ability to influence and make an impact, increasing their sphere of influence and enabling them to drive change more effectively. Because their brand is aligned with their values, it effectively communicates their vision and goals, inspiring and motivating others to align with their vision and work towards common objectives.

As marketing executives, we are sometimes too focused on getting wins for the business that we sometimes forget that we may already be damaging our own personal brand. But remember that you have a choice on what kind of personal brand you put out in your “market” or sphere of influence. As such, you need to be conscious of your thoughts, words, actions, and decisions, keeping in mind that you will inevitably demonstrate what you stand for in all your interactions. So if you want your personal brand to be authentic, honest, and trustworthy – then you should behave accordingly. The choice is yours.

5. Listen To Understand, Not To Respond

Active listening is about genuinely and attentively listening to others – whether your customers, stakeholders, colleagues, or team members – with the primary goal of understanding their perspective rather than focusing on formulating an immediate response. Mastering active listening allows you to demonstrate genuine interest and respect for other's thoughts and opinions, which strengthens relationships, establishes trust, and creates a foundation for open and collaborative communication.

Listening to understand also enables you to gain valuable insights about your target audience, industry trends, and potential challenges, which are crucial to developing effective marketing strategies and campaigns that resonate with the intended audience. When you actively listen to diverse perspectives and ideas, you can uncover new opportunities, think more creatively, and better comprehend the messages, concerns, and expectations of those around you.

The marketing landscape thrives on collaboration, creativity, and diverse perspectives. Thus, a successful marketing executive understands the importance of fostering a culture that embraces inclusivity, promotes hard work, empowers team members, encourages innovation, and inspires trust. By embracing visionary thinking, harnessing the power of influence, and cultivating a collaborative and inclusive culture, marketers can motivate their teams, drive organizational success, and adapt to the ever-changing business landscape.

About the author:

After completing a degree in Mass Communication from the University of the Philippines, Olivia has built a career in Marketing and Business Development for multinational personal care brands for the past two decades. She has represented her brands at conferences around Europe and Asia and has been helping companies around the world with their marketing and communication strategies.