Covid-19 update: We are fully operational and working from home during our operating hours of 09:00-17:30 Mon-Fri.

Essential skills for Marketing Leaders

marketing leadership skills

Leading marketing is very different to doing marketing. Here, we explain the difference and outline how you can develop your marketing leadership skills.

Doing vs Leading: why marketing skills should not stop at technical ability

Marketing is a fast-paced industry. Demand upon marketing skills development, particularly within the digital sphere, is constantly evolving. Indeed, a quick search on Google for ‘marketing skill courses UK’ returns over 442 million results with everything from social media marketing to video production, copywriting, pay per click management and thought leadership development listed as a desirable capability.

Whilst skills in these specialisms are by all means valuable assets to have in your marketing arsenal, leadership in marketing requires more than advanced knowledge in a (digital) niche.

To be an effective marketing leader, you must go beyond the technicalities of ‘doing’ marketing. As the renowned Thomas Barta states, marketing leadership is much broader. A marketing leader must perform a balancing act and bridge the constant undulations of customer and company needs. Barta calls this intersection of needs the value creation zone. On the customer side, this means understanding what prospects want and convincing them to buy from your organisation. On the company side, expanding the ‘V Zone’ relates to knowing organisation needs and mobilising others to enact this vision.

Why does it all matter?

It should seem clear that marketing is no longer the colouring-in department. Marketing is a strategic function, with marketers and CMOs not only taking their seat at the boardroom table but leading the customer agenda for the company.

Research has proven that having a board-level marketing director can deliver up to 8% more revenue. That’s cold, hard cash (yes, CFO we’re looking at you).

Think Beyond offers a number of options for businesses to access Marketing Director support. We can provide a board-level Chartered Marketer at the fraction of the cost of a full-time alternative. Call 01625 682110 to discuss.

3 Essential marketing leadership skills

So then, when it comes to the crunch what qualities should a marketing leader have? Here we’ve distilled three essential leadership skills:

1. Focus

Firstly, the best marketing leaders are focussed. They are data-driven and customer-centric whilst never losing sight of business objectives. The result is a competitive strategy that works long-term and delivers efficiencies.

2. Communication

If marketers are storytellers then a marketing leader is something of a best-selling author. They are someone who can not only make the case for transformation but can also convince others to act. As a mobilising force, leadership in marketing requires effective communication at all levels – stakeholders, colleagues and internal teams.

3. Resilience

As noted earlier in this blog, marketing is an evolving and dynamic industry where nothing stays the same for long. Marketing leaders know this and most importantly, know how to navigate through the changing tides. Consequently, they are resilient; they adapt and they never stop listening to changing customer or business needs.

What is a marketing leadership role?

Many believe strategic marketing leadership is reserved for the CMO role but leadership in marketing can be understood by marketing assistants, executives and management.

Businesses are complex entities. As a result, creating alignment and getting your teams working off the same page is essential to drive performance

Marketing leaders speak

Let’s hear from those in senior marketing positions and leadership roles.

“There are numerous things that I have learned on my leadership journey and am still learning are key! Resilience, believing in yourself and adapting quickly to new and unexpected situations is becoming increasingly important, particularly as the world changes constantly. Leading from the front, creating that vision and supporting/coaching/encouraging team members in executing against that vision pays dividends to how successful you and those team members will be. I’d also say that being true to yourself and being an authentic leader really sets you apart from others – being the best version of you at all times will deliver results by enabling others to be on that journey with you.”

Vice President at Atos, Cat Dutton

“Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) can offer value at the Senior Leadership Team table and establish trust with the Board by focusing on a few things:

  • CMO’s need to “give themselves permission” to own strategic programmes and drive discussions at the Board level, something many CMO’s don’t naturally look to do.
  • CMO’s need to expand their remit from a primary focus on driving net new pipeline (growth) to owning and driving the entire customer experience (including expansions, renewals, advocacy etc).

To achieve the above, CMO’s need to get their head up and be first to connect with their peers, supporting functions, Board etc. Take steps to ensure they’re seen across their business to be driving maturity programs forward in areas that define the customer experience in its totality.”

Chief Marketing Officer at Thomas International, John Webster

“Marketing is a business, with typically >10% of an organisations revenue being spent on it you are going to need to keep a tight ship. Clearly, you need to have earned your stripes and understand how to market but life as a leader is spent inspiring the team, managing performance, KPI’s, change, ROI, reporting, compliance and most importantly, people. “None of us is smarter than all of us.” As a leader, it’s your role to orchestrate everything and everyone to deliver outstanding performances.”

Senior Director, EMEA Marketing at ServiceNow, Jason Martin

“My leadership mantra is ‘control the controllables’; I’ve learned (often the hard way!) that most valuable outcomes are achieved if I focus energy on things I’m sufficiently in control of. I advocate humble leadership and believe that by being ourselves, and by being kind, we can overcome challenges together. Cultivating a learning culture is key; by regularly exposing ourselves to new things, we are far more likely to respond well to change when under pressure. Leadership happens at all levels, not just at the top of a company – so broadly nurturing talent, for me, is one of the true privileges of leadership. And, the only restrictions on our ability to achieve as leaders are the ones we impose – so dream big!”

Founder & Director, Evolve Collaboration Ltd, Lisa (Hooley) Edwards, formerly Vice President Shared Services – SPXFLOW Inc. & Managing Director – TetraPak Business Services.

Institute of Directors (IoD) Regional Director for the North West, Claire Ebrey, refers to the ongoing nature of leadership skills curation and outlines how the IoD “exists to help members become the best directors they can be. We do this by connecting them up, across all sectors, shapes and sizes of organisation, amplifying their voice, and developing their director skills.”

Marketing leadership skills training

Are you ready to lead the way and make the leap from ‘doing’ marketing? Think Beyond is a marketing consultancy agency that specialises in marketing skills development and leadership training. By the way of online and offline marketing workshops, we cover topics such as management, influencing and your personal brand. All training is bespoke and tailored to your exact needs to support your individual skills development.

Contact Think Beyond

Book your marketing skills consultation today by calling 01625 682110 or email

Alternatively, you can request a free one hour marketing review by completing our friendly contact form.

Lastly, why not find out what it’s like to work with Think Beyond by viewing our five-star testimonials and case study.

Essential skills for Marketing Leaders

Enter your details and we’ll call you back to discuss your needs.

Contact Info