New Leadership

Changes at the top can have a big impact. Right now, this fact is filling many of us with joy and relief. But when the new leader has direct control over your working world, it’s natural to be a little wary. What can marketing leaders do to prepare for—and survive—a new CEO? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • It seems to have slowed down since the pandemic began. But how long will this pause last?
  • A new leader inevitably brings change and uncertainty on many levels.
  • This uncertainty often includes the make-up of the senior leadership team. New CEOs tend to make decisions about their executive team quickly, often in the first 60 days.
  • There’s good news here for marketing leaders. A strong CEO-CMO relationship can do great things for growth. And these days, most CEO’s know it.
  • But it’s worth remembering back in 2019 when CEO churn was peaking, CMO tenure looked pretty shaky as well. In fact, some organizations were even eliminating the role altogether.
  • So what can you do to minimize disruption to your department and survive a shift at the top? First, make sure you’re more than ready to answer basic questions about the impact of your teams’ efforts on the bottom line.
  • Once the new leader arrives, focus your curious marketing brain on understanding them. Do your utmost to quickly assess their mindset, their style and the vision they’re working towards.
  • Once you understand that vision, make it crystal clear that you’re ready and willing to help them achieve it. Don’t wait for them to ask—be proactive. Being the new boss can be stressful and early allies are always welcome.
  • Even as you’re working to understand the CEO’s mindset, take some time to consider your own. McKinsey analysis shows CMOs at high growth companies often have a “unifier” mindset, with a focus on fostering “robust, collaborative partnerships across the C-suite”.
  • From this perspective, a change in leadership is more than a challenge to be weathered. It’s an opportunity to forge a tight leadership team who will champion the marketing agenda—a prize worth chasing for any marketing leader.
Issue #112
Jan 24, 2021

Further Reading