One minute with… Thomas Barta, how to become a Marketing Leader

June 2018

Thomas Barta is a former McKinsey partner and the author of the leadership book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader

One minute with.. Thomas Barta

According to Thomas Barta, the key to becoming an influencer within an organisation is talking to the people whose ideas and behaviour you’re trying to change. “Understand what’s going on. Tell them what you want to do, but listen,” he suggests. Deceptively simple advice, but as Thomas cautions, listening is one of the hardest skills for marketers to master.

Once you’ve understood everyone’s thinking, you’ll be in a position to make a decision, but the work doesn’t finish there. “Then go back and explain how their ideas were taken on board--or not. Listen, decide and communicate -- it’s extremely powerful.” Through this three-step process, leaders are able to inspire the kinds of profound change that make life significantly better for customers, and which have meaningful and measurable impacts on the bottom line.

After thousands of hours researching the characteristics of marketing teams across the globe, Thomas’s team has identified leadership skills and the influence that stems from them as the biggest predictor of success. “You have to be influential for your hard work to pay off,” he says, arguing that without the ability to explain, persuade and execute within large organisations, it is all too easy for marketing’s impact to be diminished.

In their book “The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader”, Thomas and his co-author Patrick Barwise, identify the various behaviours which together make up a marketing leader. In the closing section of his talk, Thomas shared four of the most valuable insights from their work.

  1. Tackle the big issues. If you’re not building value for both your company and your customers, it will be difficult to win support for your ideas.
  2. Stand for profitable revenue. Make sure the outcomes of your proposals and projects are aligned with revenue, customers and profit. Avoid metrics that only matter to other marketers.
  3. Tell a story of hope. To inspire change and earn support for your goals you need to be able to capture hearts and minds. 
  4. Walk the halls. Influence isn’t earned by sending emails; you need to meet colleagues and stakeholders face to face, listen to their concerns and include them in your thinking.