Leaders, not just marketers

By Kate Young, Head of customer centricity and capability at ANZ

The skills a modern marketer needs are changing fast. Marketers now need to bridge the digital-data-insight divide required to drive digital transformation and lead the growth agenda.

Beyond traditional marketing concepts, an understanding of data, AI, personalisation and machine learning for example are becoming a prerequisite in many roles.

Our profession is fast-changing, we must be on our toes and be continuous learners. If we don’t, we will struggle to keep up with the technological and societal changes happening around us.

Non-technical skills to the fore

Beyond data and technology literacy, the profile of a top-performing marketer is changing.

We are already seeing new roles coming to the fore – Machine and People Ethics Managers, Algorithm Bias Auditors, Mood & Empathy Managers and Master Storytellers[1].

Yes, these roles are digital and data first, but importantly, all require strong demonstration of human understanding, ethics and creative skills. The stuff AI can’t quite replace yet – the empathy and emotional intelligence that only humans can provide.

Marketers are set to be the key orchestrators and keepers of data in organisations, therefore we need strong leadership to ensure the success of the entire business and to complement these technical capabilities.

Marketers will be the agents of change, the leaders in an organisation’s growth agenda. The focus is now on individuals who can blend technical skills with vital non-technical skills: Creativity. Adaptability. Resilience. All key traits of great leaders.

Developing leaders, not just marketers

As marketing transforms as a function, so does the role of leadership in marketing.

At ANZ, we’ve been relentless in our pursuit of marketing mastery, upskilling and reskilling our marketing discipline not only for today but for the future. As we systemised capability development internally, it became very clear building leadership was critical.

The ability to lead – to inspire, direct, and teach others – must absolutely permeate an organisation. It’s very clear today that leadership is a critical emerging capability for modern marketers.

Leadership and inspiring others is often described as an innate trait. People such as Nelson Mandela, JFK, or Steve Jobs, so goes the popular wisdom, are simply born as charismatic and inspiring individuals. The reality is different.

While some leaders may be better at inspiring than others, the ability to inspire and motivate can be developed. The ability to inspire can be grounded in a set of conscious, intentional, and learnable behaviours. Inspirational leadership can be built with deliberate practice[2].

Nurturing our emerging leaders

In the spirit of constant improvement, this year, 16 ANZ marketers across Australia and New Zealand are embarking on a seven-month mentee journey through a partnership we have established with the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).

The Emerging Marketers Program is an opportunity for emerging marketers to connect with external senior marketing professionals, get valuable insight into the industry and develop their skills to give them a competitive edge in their careers.

Furthermore, our involvement in the Emerging Marketers Program extends to our role as a co-sponsor for the 2022 program. We’re also putting our money where our mouth is by sponsoring the AMI’s “Future Leader of the year” award. With this privilege, comes the opportunity for ANZ to play an integral role in demonstrating our commitment to developing and nurturing future leaders.

We know mentorship is a great way for career development – our own CMO Sweta Mehra is very vocal about the key role mentors have played in her life and her career – and we want to give our emerging marketers a chance to make career and life-long connections, build their personal brand in the process and crucially, hone their leadership skills.

Investing in yourself and your team is the best decision a marketer can make now and effective leaders who support and enable this learning will be the ones who will have the highest performing marketing teams.

We all need to upskill and reskill, to continue to learn, grow and develop. The world is not static. Our profession shouldn’t be. Change is here now.

By Kate Young, Head of customer centricity and capability at ANZ


[1] Cognizant, 21 Marketing Jobs of the Future, https://www.cognizant.com/futureofwork/article/21-marketing-jobs-of-the-future

[2] When Execution Isn’t Enough: Decoding Inspirational Leadership, Claudio Fesser, McKinsey & Company

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