CMOs can’t do it alone: How to forge better relationships with other C-level leaders

Closeup shot of a group of unrecognisable businesspeople holding puzzle pieces together.If you’re a marketing executive who still has a long way to go in terms of digital transformation efforts, you’re far from alone. A research study released by MediaSense earlier this year found that only 11 percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) worldwide expressed confidence that they’d finished their digital transformation journey.

While various obstacles can delay the completion of these projects, one roadblock to consider is a lack of collaboration with other C-level executives at your company. While some endeavors are easier to tackle alone, organization-wide digital transformation requires everyone to be on the same page. To reach your goals as CMO, you might need to consider whether a disconnect from other leaders is holding you back.

CMOs’ crisis of confidence and lack of collaboration

Research suggests there’s plenty of opportunity for marketing execs to forge stronger bonds with their fellow C-level leaders: A Deloitte report released in 2019 stated that only 17 percent of C-suite executives reported collaborating with CMOs during the previous 12 months. By contrast, 47 percent had worked with COOs during the same period.

That lack of collaboration seems to stem from a shortage of confidence. A mere 5 percent of CMOs included in Deloitte’s study considered themselves high performing in terms of their ability to influence strategic decision-making, gain support from their peers for projects, and impact the overall trajectory of the organization. Meanwhile, 55 percent of CEOs self-identified as high performers.

However, the study also shows that CMOs tend to be their own worst critics. Almost 50 percent of CEOs considered their CMOs highly effective for all the metrics included in the report. So, if you’re holding back on working with other execs because you fear you aren’t as competent as they are, consider the possibility that you’re too hard on yourself.

Overall, the Deloitte report stated its findings indicated “significant opportunities for CMOs to more clearly define their role as customer experience champion, forge closer relationships with other C-suite executives, and take more risks as leaders.”

Tips for connecting with other C-level executives

By putting yourself out there and forging better relationships with other C-level leaders, you can increase the odds of your projects succeeding in addition to contributing to your colleagues’ departmental efforts and the overall growth of the company.

Here are a few tips for improved collaboration with other execs.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and go beyond your role. Deloitte advises actively seeking ways to add to your peers’ discussions and contribute beyond the traditional scope of a CMO. This can boost your confidence and increase your impact in the C-suite.

2. Speak their language. For instance, Google advises that a strong relationship between the CMO and CFO is vital for digital transformation. To work effectively with the CFO, think of numbers and metrics that show your marketing efforts’ fiscal impact (e.g., revenue growth).

3. Find common goals. Consider what you have in common in terms of motivation and desired outcomes, Google recommends. For example, you can connect your marketing goals (e.g., increasing brand awareness) to other execs’ objectives (e.g., more sales and higher profits).

4. Listen attentively and demonstrate that you genuinely care about their thoughts and concerns. To build strong relationships that drive overall success for the business, you need to show empathy and prove to other executives that you care about their issues and efforts as well as your professional projects. As a team, you can help each other and make your organization stand out from the competition.

5. Leverage your unique understanding of CX and the customer journey. CMOs have the greatest visibility into the customer experience, according to a Harvard Business Review article by the Deloitte study authors. Utilize your access to this knowledge to give your colleagues a leg up and contribute to their departments’ initiatives whenever possible.

Ultimately, CMOs have enormous potential to significantly influence overall business strategy – but only with sufficient confidence in our abilities and effective teamwork with the rest of the C-suite.     

Our trusted technology advisors can assist you if you’d like expert guidance on your digital transformation journey. We can assess your needs and goals and pinpoint the best products and services for your business. Get started today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing to schedule a consultation.

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