The Leadership Series (Part II): Becoming a Globally-Minded Marketing Leader

To help you on your continuous journey of personal and professional development, we held an interactive workshop between Future CMOs and CMO Mentors and asked them the question: “What does it take to be the best marketing leader you can be?”

The answers ranged from general to specific, but one topic that particularly piqued marketers' interest was how to develop that all-encompassing world-view that today's top marketers seem to have. The ability to holistically look at the big picture, without losing sight of the smaller details is a highly valued skill in the marketing and business arena, whether you are a part of a small, privately held organization or leading a large, public brand.

The truth is, we must all be global leaders – whether our business is geographically focused or not - because the Internet makes the reach and impact of our messages instantly infinite. As marketers, we need a global mindset to more fully understand business objectives across different markets, spot hidden opportunities, stay aware of competitive disruption and just be better citizens of planet Earth.

After developing some of the core competencies as a leader amongst your team and organization, it's time to widen your view and look at how you can excel as a leader of the modern global organization.

How to Open the Aperture to Expand your World-View
with Jorge Pederzini, Director Global Marketing (Chili's) of Brinker International.

Q: What are the hallmarks of a globally-minded marketing leader?

A: Global leaders start at the macro level – understanding a larger culture first – before zooming in and using a local lens to understand local regions, markets, and customers. The traits and characteristics that help them the most are flexibility, empathy, listening skills, and the ability to develop proof points across geographies and cultures.

Start by looking at ways you can develop this skillset and then put them into practice. Watch how your CMO displays these traits, take on new projects and even look outside your organization for opportunities to grow. Being a global marketing leader starts with being aware of what's happening in the world and just being a good global citizen.

Q: What should I be doing to stay current with the global news and with marketing?

A: While the advice is to simply make sure you stay up to date on current news, proper execution will take a little bit of legwork.

We all have limited time in the day, so curation is key here. Leverage tools like Significant Digits, Flipboard, Google Alerts and other news curation sites in order to follow key political, financial or social topics that are top of mind for you.

Q: How do I cultivate cultural curiosity?

A: Culture curiosity stems from general curiosity – that impulse to always ask how and why. I believe - as marketers - that most of us have that already. Don't be afraid to ask those questions - and then take the initiative to answer them for yourself and CMO. You can add huge value to those around you by passing along information that brings to light new insights and helps a global or national campaign move forward.

On an interpersonal level, build relationships and interact with others while being open to learning why they are doing things the way they do. Don't accuse or follow-up with your own process. Remember you are there simply to learn and have an open mind. Cultivating this trait requires hands-on, in-the-market time, but it is like a muscle that will become trained over time.

Q: Do you have the emotional sensitivity (EQ) and intelligence to be aware of how others feel and to figure out how best to relate to them across geographical, cultural and linguistic boundaries? What can do you to understand your self-bias, cultural norms, etc.?

A: Having a self-bias simply makes us human.

In fact, by being open to understanding the lens through which you view the world, you will hone your ability to see (and move past) the biases of other markets, cultures and individuals. Start with yourself and work out with a non-judgemental point of view. The best leaders are aware of others’ opinions and feelings and have the ability to respect them without trying to change them.

There is plenty of literature on EQ and how leaders can develop this skill in order to inspire and bring out the best in those around them. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a great starting point.

Q: What can you do to manage and handle the stress of the ambiguity and complexity that comes with this role?

A: The first piece to this is to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We simply cannot know everything (even though it may feel like we are hired to do just that!) and those that are upfront with what they don’t know are able to build a team, find partners and build a support system to fill in the gaps.

Secondly, break down your problem and prioritize the steps needed to solve it. Not everything can be solved in one meeting or even one day, but getting clarity on what isn’t known will put you in a good position to go out and gather the information you need to move to the next level.

As a global marketer, all challenges and opportunities can feel like they are amplified to a greater level. Remembering to take a deep breath before reacting or making any big decisions can go a long way in setting yourself up for day to day success.