Just like a brand, we each bring a core strength as a marketing leader. There are four general core strengths to build your marketing career around; running the business, marketing execution, strategic thinking or managing people. You should be managing your marketing career around your core strength. When you are finding yourself in a career transition, this can really trigger new thinking.
Do you know your core strength?
Let’s take it a step further. Here’s a game you can play to force your thinking. Look below at the diagram. You have four chips. Put one on the highest strength, two on the medium and force one to be at the lowest.
If you still say, “I’m pretty good at all 4” then push yourself, I might not believe you. No one is equally great at all four. You have to know your strength. As you make your next move, each choice may lead you to 4 different career choices.
If you love running the business, focus your career in product management, private equity or new industries. When you love marketing execution, explore switching to an agency role, an innovation leader or a media expert. If you are a strategic thinker, move into consulting, be a professor or go into a global role. Finally, when your strength is people leadership, keep moving up to a general management role, explore the entrepreneur world or become a personal coach.
When your strength is running the business
You are naturally a business leader, who enjoys the thrill of hitting the numbers– financial or share goals. In Myers Briggs, you might be an ENTJ/INTJ (introvert/ extrovert, intuition, thinking, judgment). This is the “field general” who brings the intuitive logic and quick judgment to decisions quickly to capitalize on the business opportunity.
You like product innovation side more than advertising. Moreover, you are fundamentally sound in the core elements of running a business—forecasting, analytics, finance, distribution—working each functional areas for the benefit of the products. You may have gaps in creativity or people leadership, but you are comfortable giving freedom to your agencies or team to handle the creative execution.
My recommendation is to focus your marketing career on Product Management as long as you can. If you find roadblocks in your current industry, consider new verticals before you venture into new career choices. You should consider running businesses on behalf of Private Equity firms or venture into Entrepreneurship, where you can leverage your core strength of running a business.
If you are looking to figure out your Myers-Briggs score, here’s a great link to get started.
When your biggest strength is Marketing Execution
When you are the type of marketer, who is highly creative and connects more to ideas and insights than strict facts and tight business decisions. You believe facts can guide you but never decide for you. Also, you are high on perception, allowing ambiguous ideas to breathe before closing down on them. Moreover, you respect the creative process and creative people. You are intuitive in deciding what a good or bad idea is. You may have gaps in the areas of organizational leadership or strategy development that hurts you from becoming a senior leader. Moreover, you likely see answers before questions and frustrated by delays.
In terms of your marketing career, saying in the Marketing area, you may end up limited in moving beyond an execution role. You may be frustrated in positions that would limit your creativity. Stepping into a Director level role could set you up for failure. Look to grab a subject-matter-expert role in internal advertising, media, innovation role or merchandising.
Going forward beyond Marketing, consider switching to the Agency side or Consult on subject-matter expertise (Innovation, Marketing Communication or Public Relations) to build on your strengths.
When you are naturally a strategic thinker
You enjoy the planning more than the execution. You might fall into the INTP, where you’re still using logic and intuition, stronger at the thinking that helps frame the key issues and strategies than making the business decisions. The introvert side would also suggest that your energy comes from what’s going on in your brain, than externally. An honest assessment would indicate that managing and directing the work of others is not your strength.
If you stay within the marketing industry, you could be very strong in a Global Brand role, General Management or even a Strategic Planning role. You need to either partner with someone who is strong at marketing execution or builds a strong team of business leaders beneath you.
When you are a career transition, it may make sense to go outside the industry. You might enjoy consulting and thought leadership which could turn into either an academic or professional development type roles. Continue building your thought leadership to carve out a specific perspective or reputation where you can monetize.
When your biggest strength is leading people
You find a natural strength in leading others. You are skilled in getting the most from someone’s potential. Also, you are good at conflict resolution, providing feedback, inspiring/motivation and career management of others. You are a natural extrovert and get your energy from seeing others on your team succeed. As you move up, you should surround yourself with people who counter your gaps–whether that is on strategy or marketing execution.
If you find yourself better at management than marketing, pursue a general management role as a leader of leaders. As you find yourself in a career transition and re-evaluating your marketing career, look for a cross-functional shift in sales or operations to gain various perspectives of the business to enable you to take on a general management role in the future.
After you hit your peak within the corporate world, consider careers such as executive coaching where the focus remains on guiding people.