Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CMO Club May '08: Characteristics of a CMO Superstar

The second day of "You're Not Alone Anymore" Summit launched with a panel of industry recruiting professionals discussing the characteristics of CMO superstars. On the panel were Patrick Delhougne and Caren Fleit, Senior Client Partners at Korn/Ferry International and Dee Goddert, President of Lominger, a Korn/Ferry company that creates executive assessment tools.

The trio began by offering advice on how to scrutinize candidates when seeking and interviewing top-level executives or looking for lower level managers that could be groomed for senior levels.

First step is obvious: identify your business needs and climate. Look at where the mix of your different strategies (Business/Portfolio, Marketing communication/Brand, and Product Development/Innovation) lie. What do you need? What are you going to focus on? Who are you looking for?

When it comes to leadership competencies, what do these candidates need to have? You can't just say "We need them to be strategic" because you'll get different answers from all the decision makers. Fleit recommends a card sort. Take all the ideas, put them on cards, and force the decision makers to sort them in three piles: mission critical, important, not very important. Only put seven in the mission critical pile.

Dee Goddert shared some findings of studies Lominger has conducted of leadership styles of management employees-from supervisors up to C-level employees. The assessment company looked at the characteristics of decisiveness, flexibility, hierarchy (can your decision last?), and integration . Integration is defined as the ability to frame problems broadly, collect many potential action sources, be creative, and highly participative.

What Lominger learned is style of C-level executives is exactly opposite that of a supervisor. Supervisors have high decisiveness and low integration. C-level employees have low decisiveness and high integration. The more highly compensated the employee, the more pronounced these differences are and the shift happens earlier.

When you're looking at CMOs or other high level employees, compare the candidates across the following aspects:
  • Best-in-class
  • Industry- what is the distinct profile for your industry?
  • Role definition
Here are some style issues the panel has noticed about CMOs.

Leadership style of CMOs (The public style that others observe)
  • Approachable
  • Influencing rather than directing
  • Toleration of different points of view
  • Lots of substance. Not immediately noticeable. Present themselves as easy, not intimidating.
Thinking style of CMOs (While people are not watching)
  • While people see them as consensus forming, they're very data driven. Combine complex information into long term strategies.
  • Less overtly action focused than a VP of Sales might be
Emotional style of CMOs
  • Possess an unusually high tolerance for ambiguity
  • Have a moderate level of composure
  • Have an unusually high level of empathy
  • Energetic
  • Have a relatively high level of humility which affords them the ability to adapt under changing circumstances and to modify their approach.
  • Moderately confident individuals.
Good news for CEOs. Psychologically, you're very well balanced executives.

At the end of the session, all the CMOs rushed the panel of recruiters to exchange business cards. :)

1 comment:

Richard said...

executive assessment tools are really important in order to evaluate internal executives for career potential and readiness.