Leadership Lessons from Top Marketing Executives

Leadership Lessons from Top Marketing Executives

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” — Harry S. Truman

Some leaders are born; others, well trained. Top-level marketing managers who inspire their teams to succeed have one thing in common: they lead with excellence, passion and integrity. Here are some thoughts from the best and brightest in the business:

Lisa Cochrane, Senior Vice President Marketing, Allstate Insurance Co.

“Inspiration starts with a vision, and Allstate’s vision is pretty simple – we are the Good Hands. That’s my vision for the team, and it directs how we work together internally and how we approach our customers.

I’m fortunate that I have an exceptionally talented team – they make my job easy. We push each other to achieve excellence in everything we do following a few basic rules:

Be bold – You have to push the envelope and be decisive.
Stay fresh – Sometimes what’s best for the brand is something that’s never been done before.
Think customer first – Keep the customer’s interests and needs at the center of everything you do. Make sure that everyone the brand touches feels the reassurance of being in good hands.

And finally, we all need to be adaptable and open to change. Our industry – really, our world — is advancing fast, and it’s our job as marketers to stay ahead of this changing landscape and set the course for everyone else.”

Lylle Breier, SVP, Worldwide Special Events, Walt Disney Studios, Motion PIctures

“As for leadership, I am lucky to have the best, most competent and dedicated team in the industry. I lead by providing clear direction and quick answers and by instilling in everyone the idea that failure is unacceptable – if something cannot be accomplished one way, we just find another, better way to do it!”

Dana Anderson, Senior Vice President, Marketing Strategy and Communications, Mondelez International

View/read everything: Our brains (and those of folks with whom we work) need stimulation. Reading all kinds of books and articles and watching all sorts of film, looking at art and racing through YouTube all open our minds to new ideas. Those new neurons firing will come in handy next time you face a stubborn problem.”

Share the good stuff: Send great things to read and consume to your team. Encourage them to share with each other. It helps us all know one another better, it teaches us that our colleagues are a source of help and inspiration and keeps us looking for gems to pass along.

Think big: Sometimes we are too modest in our dreaming, too careful not to overspend or assume partners would never want to work with us. When in fact, we have found when you reach higher, connect with fascinating partners and take on brave new challenges that we are so capable of great things. We must be our first line of supporters and the place where greatness is spawned. Many times during our discussions, if I think we are thinking too small, I stop the conversation and ask the team how we can turn this into something scary and BIG.

Heap praise: Trying new things and thinking big takes guts. People who are out there innovating and plowing new ground need to hear thanks. We so often forget in the rush of the moment to recognize people for their daring. I think this is especially true for people who dare often.  We take them for granted and forget to say a word of thanks, to send a note or to mention them to senior management at the appropriate time.

Say Yes: You have to be willing to try things. Embrace doing. Innovation without execution is worthless. Creating an environment where you are open to trying new things is so fundamental to getting people to give birth to bold ideas. Without that overt celebration of what is possible, people are less likely to be fearless. And we need fearless in order to blaze new trails.”

Kimberly Kadlec, Worldwide Vice President; Global Marketing Group, Johnson & Johnson

“Connect your people to the bigger purpose of the company you work for. Everyone needs to feel like they are contributing to the larger picture in a meaningful way.”

Scott Monty, Head of Social Media, Ford Motor Company

“Part of the reason Ford employees are so successful is because they’re talented, hardworking and passionate about our shared vision. We all realize that to be successful, it’s about people working together around the world in a variety of business functions – all with the same goal of a viable Ford with profitable growth for all. Our leadership team is transparent and that cascades down to every one of our employees, so we’re all held to the same standards.”

Shelley Wagner, Director, Advertising and Promotions, The Los Angeles Dodgers

“Leading by example and having empathy for others is what has personally inspired me and is the path I’ve taken to motivate my team. It’s not just the attempt to do a job well in hopes for recognition, but it’s the smaller steps along the way that drive excellence. This includes having a clear understanding of job roles and acknowledging individuals for their efforts as well as displaying a consistent and positive work ethic that helps encourage them to stay on task.”

Bob Liodice, President and CEO of Association of National Advertisers

“There’s no easy or right way to answer to the question. But it does begin with fundamentals. About a decade ago, the ANA was a mediocre organization at best. We recognized we had substantial potential – but we did not have the strategies or the resources to lift ourselves. If I were to look at that time in retrospect, we did a few fundamental things that I believe led to our transformation.”

We focused on quality as our mantra. My team kids me, but I told them I always wanted them to pursue everything they did at the ANA and for our members with three platforms: “Quality, quality and more quality”. We needed to distinguish ourselves with our members as survival / growth required ongoing relevance and value.

We needed to free resources to invest in success. Many trade associations don’t invest properly – and, therefore, never get to smell success. We focused on creating a pool of investable resources that was dedicated to staff building and product and service expansion. By consistently doing what we said, we demonstrated to the internal teams at the ANA that we just didn’t talk about ideas, we made sure they happened. That helped build internal credibility and belief that the future was worth fighting for.

We worked to elevate the market. By pursuing key industry leadership initiatives, we gained marketplace relevance and belief that the ANA was a focal point for industry management. By getting external acknowledgement, our internal teams became more believing that their work made a difference. That’s a nice place to be.

We rewarded success. Everyone on the ANA is on an incentive plan. Everyone. We are all joined at the hip for our mutual success. We win or lose together. When we win, we reinforce ANA’s reason for being – and the high quality work that our teams deliver on behalf of our members.”

This article is written from the personal perspective of Andrew Merryman. The opinions and views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Miller Group Advertising.

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