Posted by Kara Bosworth on April 12, 2018
Marketers and creatives have their work cut out for them. Tasked with shaping brands and influencing consumer buying decisions, they must possess a host of unique skills that evolve and grow over time.
But employers have their share of challenges, too. In order to really maximize this marketing talent, they must be able to spot and develop it so valuable employees remain stimulated and fulfilled, and the teams they oversee work as effectively as possible.
So how can you identify leadership potential and tap this critical talent? These five techniques can help.
1. Invite Your Leaders to Parade Their Skills
The daily tasks associated with marketing work don’t always allow creatives to get, well, creative. They may be proficient at their jobs, but unless you can glean deeper insight into their potential you may not be able to recognize the leaders in the crowd.
To find what McKinsey & Company refers to as “hidden leaders,” the organization recommends using bait in the form of awards and contests that invite employees to put their best foot forward. “One idea we’ve seen work is to offer awards for atypical performance such as innovation or quality control,” writes McKinsey. “Awards for inspirational leadership (designed specifically for people who are not in formal leadership roles), for problem-solving skills (restricted to nonmanagers), or for global collaboration are all ways to root out unsung talent.”
2. Set Long-Term Goals
Many employees have what it takes to deliver on tasks that produce immediate results. These shorter term results include driving more traffic to your website or increasing your conversation rate. Meeting long-term strategic goals, however, takes foresight, patience, and meticulous planning.
Ask your creatives to take their best shot at impacting key performance indicators (KPIs) which tie closely to business objectives. These include customer lifetime value and brand interest lift. This can reveal how effective they’ll be at impacting your long-term marketing department objectives.
3. Look for Empathy
Empathy — the ability to understand how others feel — is an important leadership skill and a critical component of a successful business. Studies show a third of employees would switch jobs in order to work for a more empathetic company, and 40 percent would work longer hours for such an employer. What’s more, 42 percent of consumers won’t buy from a company they think lacks empathy.
In other words, creative and marketing professionals who can put themselves in their team members’ shoes are better able to relate to both their employees and their customers. Pay close attention to how your creatives interact with other members of their team.
4. Test for an Optimistic Attitude
Does your leadership candidate have confidence in your company’s ability to solve business challenges and drive change? This too is a sign of a strong manager. Not only is optimism a fundamental characteristic of designers that allows them to turn constraints into opportunities, but as famed ad agency Wieden+Kennedy points out, “Fear is the enemy of innovation.”
A pessimistic attitude can hold marketing leaders back. Those who are bullish, dedicated, and unwilling to give up will propel their employees and your business forward. To determine whether your would-be leader has an optimistic attitude, encourage them to innovate on a regular basis, and evaluate the way they respond to difficult situations.
5. Don’t Forget the Feedback
Being a strong marketing leader isn’t just about giving constructive feedback to employees, but accepting it as well. Leaders should embrace your suggestions and criticism, and know how to recognize and apply the most promising ideas.
You can uncover management potential by actively engaging with employees, monitoring how they take your constructive feedback, and observing what they choose to do with it. Watch to see who proactively asks for feedback, too. It’s these creatives who’ll be most likely to grow as leaders.
Looking for more tips on how to make the most of your creative talent? Check out our blog for articles and insights.