Brand Leaders always pride themselves on being generalists, and as we move up, we have to be. But the reality is that we are naturally better in some areas than others, and at very senior levels that can help guide your career choices. Here’s a very simple tool I have created to help guide your thinking to see where your natural strength lies, within one of four choices: 1) Managing Products 2) Creating Ideas 3) Strategic Thinking or 4) Leadership of People. Grade yourself, or ask others to help you, whether you are High, Medium or Low at each of them. But to this game, we only let you put ONE at the high and you should force ONE score as low.
Where is your Strength?
- Managing Products: You’re naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers–your financial or share goals for the year. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment) the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgement to make decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity. You like the innovation side more than the advertising. You are fundamentally sound at all the core elements of running a business: forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution, working each of the functional areas to the benefit of the products. You may have some gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you’re comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle coming up with ideas. My recommendation is that you stay within Brand Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, go into new verticals before you venture into new career choices. If you go outside, consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity companies or even venture out into Entrepreneurship where you take your core strength of running a business to making it on your own.
- Strategic Thinking: You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, but you are stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than the tactical solutions to the problems. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, more than what others are saying. If you stay within industry, you’d be very strong in a global brand role, general management or even a strategic planning role. You need to either partner with a strong executer or build a strong team of business leaders beneath you. Going outside, you’d enjoy consulting and thought leadership which could turn into academic or professional development type roles.
- Creative Concepts/Ideas: You are the type of Brand Leaders open to new thinking, highly creative and you connect more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. They are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. They respect the creative process and people. They are intuitive but opt for how something feels as they use their instincts for what is a good or bad idea. You may have gaps on organization and strategy that hurts you from being a senior leader. Going forward beyond Marketing, you might opt to switch to agency side or find a subject-matter expert role (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) that better suits your strengths.
- Leadership of People: You find natural strength in leading others–getting the most from someone’s potential. You’re good at conflict, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation. You are a natural extrovert, where you get your energy from seeing others on your team succeeding, almost more than yourself. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that’s on strategy or execution. You might find yourself better at Management than Marketing, and you should pursue a General Management role. You also would benefit from a cross functional shift into a sales function. After you hit your peak, consider careers such as executive coaching.
I realize that most senior leaders will struggle to come down to their ONE key area of strength and you might find yourself more of a combination. For instance, I had a hard time deciding between Strategy and Creativity, and have managed to find some balance in my second career as a Brand Coach as well as an Advertising Coach. But I am not quite comfortable enough in presenting Creative Ideas on behalf of an Agency, nor do I just want the purity of strategy. If you find yourself debating two, that still can provide you with some focus as a combination of strengths to take forward into your career.
Here are Five Soul-Searching Career Questions You need to Be Asking yourself throughout your Career
- Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go?
- Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
- Should you stay in pure Brand Management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
- How long do you want to keep working?
- Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?
You have to answer these questions honestly before going out into the market, looking for a job. These answers help frame the strategy for the roles you’d consider. Think of these questions as a starting point to your Personal Branding. To read more, including looking at a deep dive assessment of your personal situation and how to create your own Brand, follow this Powerpoint presentation:
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We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at 416 885 3911