At SAP, professional sports is a growing industry. Sports teams and sports leagues are coming to SAP for sports solutions, ranging from statistics to analytics for player scouting to creating a better experience for fans.
As I spend more time immersing myself in this industry, one thing that has caught my attention is the “coaching tree.” Similar to a family tree, it shows the relationship between a pro sports coach and his or her assistant coaches.
I have seen a lot of media coverage and discussions devoted to the importance of coaching trees.
Successful coaches establish strong coaching trees when their assistants are hired to lead competing teams.
It is a testament to a head coach’s leadership and legacy when he or she can point to others they have helped develop and groom to lead teams of their own. I believe the concept of a “coaching tree” can apply to the marketing profession.
The Marketing Leadership Tree
I believe it is incumbent upon a marketing leader to encourage and elevate new generations of talent. The reason is simple: we have all started our marketing careers at the same entry point. Somewhere along the line, somebody saw potential and made a point of helping to nurture that talent. Without opportunity to build skills and take on more responsibilities, marketers will never grow and unlock their potential.
As a case in point, look at the high school or college yearbook pictures of famous and accomplished people. Chances are at that point in their lives they were far from “accomplished.” In fact, many of them would probably admit they did not have a clear idea of what the future held for them.
But somebody- a manager, a mentor or even a co-worker- saw potential and took a chance.
The same thing has happened in our marketing careers. Someone recognized potential. People do not become Chief Marketing Officers, Creative Directors or top-notch strategists, designers or copywriters overnight. It requires a leader to help empower their people and support their development.
Nurturing Your Marketing Leadership Tree
Leading employees is a privilege. If you manage people, you are, in large part, responsible for their professional and personal welfare.
Part of that responsibility is to plant and grow your own “Marketing Leadership Tree.” If you have been helped by a manager or mentor, there is no better way to pay tribute to them and pay it forward with your own people. Here are some tips and advice:
• Give opportunity. Marketing is a profession that needs continual infusions of creativity and energy. Without it, marketers stagnate. Give your people the chance to grow professionally. My earliest managers gave me goals that forced me to stretch myself. My skills- and my self-confidence- grew significantly.
• Be invested in their development. Don’t make this a tick-the-box exercise; talk to your people and learn as much as you can about their skills and goals. The more you know and understand them, the easier it will be to guide their career and their professional development.
• Mentor your people. Don’t be the silent type. Sharing your advice, insights and even your past mistakes can be enormously helpful when you are mentoring an employee. A mentor can provide an employee with wise and thoughtful counsel, which is particularly helpful when an employee is relatively new in their job or new to an organization. Mentoring does not just benefit the employee; you are building engagement, one of the necessary ingredients for cultivating a motivated, high-performing team.
• Be a “success coach.” If you manage people, you are the “head coach” of your team; make sure your team members know what they need to do to help the team win. The best sports coaches find the right blend of praise, constructive feedback and teaching to help their players perform at their best. Look at a prominent sports coach you admire; chances are there are some techniques of theirs you can use to help your people unlock their potential.
Development-focused Coaches Build Winning Teams
It’s no secret that some of the most successful professional sports coaches often have the most prolific coaching trees.
When a head coach builds a reputation for grooming the team’s assistant coaches to be considered for other head coaching opportunities, that becomes a magnet for attracting the best assistants in that league. And when you have the strongest coaching staff, it puts the team in the best position to win.
The same applies to marketing leaders. If you build a reputation as a manager who helps develop and advance their employees, people will gravitate to your team. They will be motivated to do their best.
And isn’t that what we need when it comes to building a winning marketing team?
Remember Your Roots
Look back at your career and take inventory of the people who saw your potential, took a chance and gave you an opportunity to grow. You are part of their Marketing Leadership Trees.
Now it is up to you to keep those roots strong by establishing and adding roots of your own.
The best way to do that is to help your employees develop to their full potential. What better way to thank and honor those who helped you than by cultivating your own Marketing Leadership Tree.
Who gave you a break in your marketing career? What did it do for you? Please share your story!