What do we look for in leadership? To put it simply: Experience, Expertise, and Exceptional Communication.
These 3 “pseudo-E’s” provide young professionals (like me!) with a set of challenges as we step up and into the fray of digital marketing management.
Becoming a Marketing Leader: Experience
In my relatively short career, it has been a battle to meet these “E’s” and prove myself a leader in marketing. Yet--I have still been able to identify key areas where I feel I can not only grow, but excel. This is thanks to unpacking the key strengths that we look for in a marketing leader.
Let’s start with experience. This, in my world, has to be the most difficult hurdle to overcome in my quest for success. I am young. Young in age, in the face (I look years younger than I am I’m told), and relatively young in experience. These hurdles can greatly impact how I am received both internally and externally.
The optics of youth can often lend themselves to an unwarranted lack of faith and trust. So how do we circumvent this problem? By overcompensating in the other 2 E’s.
Building Marketing Expertise as a Leader
What we know and the expertise we develop is what I hold to be the highest qualifier of a leader. Every mentor that I’ve ever had (even to this day) I regard as an authority because of what is inside of their head and not much else. This is a constant example of how I should be striving to learn and lead.
The digital space, especially in marketing, is constantly evolving and morphing into familiar-yet-different forms. This can be a massive roadblock on the path to expertise--especially as a salesperson or other leader in this industry who is just trying to keep up.
However, I do not spend my days in accounts or reading articles on the latest news in marketing. Instead, I spend my days typing away and talking with other marketing leaders in the field.
AH-HA! Opportunity knocks. These conversations with other, more experienced leaders offer me the chance to pay close attention, listen, ask, and learn. In any discussion, there is a chance to learn and grow.
Aside from external conversations, rising marketing leaders cannot forget the indispensable tools we have right beside us--our talented team. These are the true experts, people who are in the weeds of marketing day to day and know the ins and outs of the digital landscape.
My point is--we need to use the resources that we’ve got. Sure, it’s great to seek out articles and news of our own volition (a great standard to set), but we cannot ignore our greatest asset: our co-workers and desk neighbors. Try asking a coworker for a virtual coffee chat, you may learn more than you'd think.
The Truth About Exceptional Communication
We have now officially come to the last “E” of today. Exceptional Communication. You may say, “Well I’m a strong communicator. I can speak to anybody and I’m great at giving presentations!” And I believe you. I feel the same way about myself.
But to truly achieve the status of “exceptional” in communication there is more we need to pay attention to. In my 3 years at Perfect Search Media, I’ve been able to identify a core truth in communication--everybody communicates differently.
Well duh, Andrew. Yes, DUH, reader! But as a leader, we must adopt the ability to identify how each individual prefers to communicate and match them.
To be effective internally and externally as a leader, being able to pick up different styles on the fly is invaluable. Understanding the differences between high and low context is the first step in achieving results.
From there, we are able to more accurately achieve the results we want to see from those we lead. Tailor how you talk or type to those you work with and watch as sturdier conversations and relationships develop.
The challenges of coming into a leadership role are vast and daunting--especially in marketing. But the key is to push yourself, encourage those around you, and always analyze yourself. Hopefully, these key areas can help others in my position look inward and ask “what more can I be doing to push the E’s to the next level?” So, what more can you be doing?