5 critical leadership skills every marketing ops pro needs

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5 critical leadership skills every marketing ops pro needs

Marketing activities can be chaotic and mastering leadership skills in such a dynamic environment can be an uphill battle. While the internet is overflowing with lists of leaders, these suggestions need further elaboration to determine what skills are needed and why.

It’s time to move beyond advice like “become a better communicator” and use language that makes it actionable for everyone. Below are five key skills to help you meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry.

1. Become a strategist, not a firefighter

Developing effective marketing leadership skills starts with learning strategic thinking and planning. This includes going beyond the reactionary routine and taking proactive measures in the interest of the company.

This poses a challenge in many environments when the marketing function is understaffed or under-resourced and the team simply needs to respond to articles. At some point, however, this will change. It is important to recognize fire hazards before they even arise.

Marketing leaders need to improve their ability to tackle complex problems and make informed decisions. This includes considering factors beyond simple financial implications, including:

  • Implementation of new technologies.
  • De-risking business processes across the enterprise.
  • Easy communication via MQL to SQL process between teams.

Becoming a strategist means having the ability to:

Analysis of business fundamentals

Call it “first principles” or whatever you like, but examine the core drivers of your business and be prepared to challenge the status quo based on your insights. Instead of jumping into every new martech tool, consider the cascading effects of each new technology in your organization.

Keep an eye on emerging trends and anticipate their impact on your team’s work over the next 12-24 months. Proactively communicate this expected impact to your team. When your team is prepared and ready to take action, you can spend less time putting out fires.

Shift the focus to long-term planning

Develop the ability to pull yourself out of adversity and move more into a planner/consultant role. Today you might be wondering, “How will our company use AI?” What are the implications? Disadvantages? Ethical concerns?”

Dig deeper: Rethink the marketing planning process for an agile world

2. Interpret and present data correctly

For better or worse, leaders can have a powerful impact on behavior by carefully choosing what to measure and what metrics they want their employees to measure. To excel in marketing, you need to have a strong understanding marketing analyticsBe excellent at spotting valuable insights and communicating those insights effectively and concisely.

According to Forrester, organizations differ in how they define data-driven sums it up well: “A data-driven organization identifies the insights for which it needs data. It effectively manages that data and empowers its team to leverage it.”

While data should help make decisions, you need to balance that with speed. In our organization, we often say, “Businesses grow at the speed of decision making.” You can accelerate the growth of your business by optimizing the speed at which you derive insights from your data and empowering your team to act on those insights to use.

But it’s difficult to achieve growth if you don’t know what metrics are important

Great leaders recognize the ambiguity of vanity metrics, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Instead, understand the relationships between lead and lag measures and make sure your team understands them.

People in your organization will have different opinions about what metrics are important and how to interpret them

Empathy and understanding are key. Strike a balance where necessary as different stakeholders care about different KPIs. Some may pay particular attention to flagship actions, but these actions can still illustrate progress, even if the end results are not yet visible. It’s about learning to tell a compelling story in situations like this with the data.

3. Practice empathetic change management

Change management becomes important when new processes, tools or technologies are implemented – which can often happen in the case of marketing.

Whether you’re rolling out ChatGPT for SEO or trying to get the sales team to use HubSpot sequences, your goal is to ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruption to your team. To achieve this, consider a few tips:

education and buy-in

Show empathy for those tasked with making changes and make sure they feel their concerns are heard. By securing their endorsement (rather than just claiming your accuracy), you can minimize delays and/or burnout.

Customize your message

Just like marketing a product or service, tailor your message to each specific group in your business based on what is important to them. Remember that people learn differently.

For example, create visual roadmaps that illustrate expected workflow improvements and time savings when adopting a new project management tool.

Small wins

Focus on making small wins that support the vision, whether that’s a step in the right direction or just a morale boost to keep you motivated.

For example, when transitioning to a new marketing automation platform, celebrate the first successful email campaign sent using the new tool to demonstrate its benefits and boost team morale.

4. Communicate and work together as a team

People tend to either realize afterwards that they need better communication, or they’re the type to hold meetings for the sake of meetings. But just like with group projects in high school, you don’t want to be caught doing all the work or carrying the burden alone.

Effective cross-functional collaboration is key to aligning marketing efforts with other business functions. But better collaboration doesn’t mean more meetings (which could have happened in emails, too). It’s about asking the right questions and encouraging unimpeded communication.

Create standardized processes across teams

With every decision, ask yourself: do we know the criteria by which we make these decisions? Start by identifying inconsistencies between features. Be aware of different answers to the same questions.

For example, if the same request is received in different ways from different departments, it may indicate that communication needs to be streamlined and clearer policies need to be established.

Or you may find that different teams have different webinar processes. This could mean that teams have different reasons for ignoring a standardized approach, have different processes, or are unaware of common resources like a documentation library.

Identifying and resolving these gaps will result in more effective cross-functional collaboration and a stronger, more cohesive organization.

When communicating, don’t jump straight in at the deep end

It’s great to keep everyone on the same page and set up clear communication channels within and between teams. Sharing insights and best practices between departments can also be extremely helpful.

But avoid overdoing it in communication. Going from zero to 100 to fill gaps in communication can be overwhelming, which can cause your team to turn things off and create white noise. Leaders need to measure effectiveness and pivot where necessary.

5. Be flexible yet structured where it matters

Just as a goldfish grows to fit the size of its tank, our chores expand to fill the time we give them. Agile project management can help you allocate resources efficiently and adapt to changing priorities to ensure you deliver timely results.

Clear communication

As with improving cross-functional collaboration, you need to create a decision-making framework to effectively prioritize tasks. Work on communicating goals clearly.

Dig deeper: How to use decision intelligence to solve complex business challenges

Efficient resource allocation

Adopt an agile mindset when dealing with technology transitions. Be prepared to secure your current tools, migrate to new ones, and update your organization on changes in tool usage. Balance time and resources to make these transitions smooth, as getting rid of old tools comes with its own workload.

Adapt to changing priorities

Ask better questions to understand priority and impact. Develop a plan flexible enough not to fall apart at the first sign of change.

Deliver results on time (and don’t hide them)

People might forget if you deliver on time, but they’ll remember if you’re late. Don’t forget to externally commemorate and celebrate your team’s achievements.

Staying agile is key

By implementing agile project management, you will be better equipped to deal with the dynamics of marketing operations and ensure you can adapt and deliver results efficiently.

Excelling as a marketing leader requires a unique mix of skills. Fostering these skills will put you in a better position to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry. It might seem like outdated advice, but remember that continuous learning and adaptability are key to getting ahead in marketing. So accept the challenge.

Dig deeper: Agile Marketing: What It Is and Why Marketers Should Care

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of MarTech. Staff authors are listed Here.

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