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On Leadership

Many responses I received from the “Marketing is Dead” post affirmed that changes required in marketing communication are critical to pump in leads and maintain market awareness, however the leaders in their organization just don’t "get it" and refuse to support the new tactics. This doesn’t surprise me and I will suggest that the lack of leadership behavior in most leading roles is the reason we have very few manufacturing companies (Apple excluded) experiencing explosive market growth. 


There was a span of time in my career when I was completely obsessed with the topic of leadership. I poured through all kinds of material about the topic and have resolved that there are very few leaders in our world - in our industry. I think most organizations promote people that are good at their craft (sales, engineering, etc.) into management positions without mentoring and training them to be real managers. Then they promote those same managers into leadership roles without regard to the massive difference in the roles. This disregard for true succession planning and vision is a big reason why there is such a huge plateau in our GNP. 


  • Employees are typically hired for their craft. Assembly worker, engineer, accountant, sales, etc.. Their role is to be highly productive with good quality work to support the organization’s objective. If they do well, they can be promoted to a supervisor role.
  • Supervisors watch what the employees do and micromanage to make sure the right activity is being done at the right time so their team can support the organization’s objectives. They track and measure the results and report to a manager. If they do well, they can then become a manager. 
  • Managers set goals to support the overarching organizational strategy and then communicate them and drive subordinates to achieve the goals. Ideally they are managing results and running reports to affirm that they are being achieved. If they do well, they can be promoted to a leadership role.
  • Leaders are responsible for setting and delivering the organization’s vision and high-level organizational objectives. Their day-to-day function is much more obscure than that of a manager, supervisor, or standard employee. A leader takes risks, exercises their “backbone” and connects with all levels of the organization, customers, competitors, sales channel and vendors to push and champion the organizations vision and strategies. They walk the walk and talk the talk... Over and over again. They are redundant in their message but it is the constant reinforcement of the vision and strategy - connected through all levels that drive managers to manage with passion and supervisors to supervise with purpose. When you have that kind of leadership in an organization, you will find market growth.


Most individuals in leadership roles today are reporting to share owners who prioritize short-term profits over long-term investments. Most likely they will not understand the disconnect happening when their organization continues to try to connect with the younger generation of customers through traditional marketing methods. The bleeding market share will eventually force them to make a change... unless they invest in and stand behind real leadership.

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