B2B Marketing Blog

Written by The Mezzanine Group
on January 25, 2012

How often do we admit that a great deal of what we call “leadership” really has to do with power? Ambitious people want power – to make decisions, primarily, but also to influence the decisions of others – but it’s pretty rare that we actually confess that this is what we are looking for, what we are talking about.

This is a fascinating discussion (requires quick free registration) about power in the context of the CIO role in a medium to large organization – getting it, keeping it, and using it – but I think it’s generalizable beyond IT. Many people invest their career longevity with the idea of being helpful and accommodating, when in fact that approach suggests that you don’t have your own priorities, which to most of us signals a lack of power. Nobody thinks that someone who behaves as an order-taker is a real force to be reckoned with.

In our experience, this is often true for marketing. In many organizations, the marketing function grows out of sales and strategy, but at some point in the company’s growth it becomes evident that a separate marketing function is needed. And then because it’s often seen as an offshoot, or a frill, the marketing function doesn’t necessarily have a lot of power relative to other parts of the business. We also hear that marketing is a black box for many CEOs of smaller companies, with unclear return on investment – and often marketing lacks someone with real clout around the executive table, regardless of their title. What we’d like to see is more marketers acknowledge they want the power to make decisions – and taking the accountability and leadership that goes with that, too.

  • If you’re a marketer, especially if you are part of a very small department in your organization, are you really taking responsibility for decision-making? Are you carving out the space for yourself to make a real difference in the strategy of the organization? Are you challenging the thinking of others? Are there signs that you are actually wielding influence (do others seek out your opinion before making major decisions, for instance)?
  • If you run a company or an organization, are you hiring marketers who behave like real decision-makers and challenge your thinking? Do you support them in their decisions? Have you made the space around your leadership table for the marketing function?

If the answer is no, you are probably missing the benefits of a great marketing strategy for your organization.


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