The 12 Powers: Limited Time Bulk Deal

I’ve got good news. Until December 1st, our publisher, McGraw-Hill and 800-CEO-READ offer a 40% bulk discount for our marketing leadership book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader.

Here’s the deal: for 25+ books, it’s 40% off.

Want to train your team? Now’s the time! You can combine this with our 100-Marketers Challenge.

Need to organize your season’s mailing? 800-CEO-READ will even do it all for you (contact

They’ll limit this offer until end December 2018, so order today!

The 100-Marketers Challenge

To bring the insights from the world’s largest ever study on marketing leadership to 1,500 marketers at all levels, Thomas and Patrick are giving away two hours of free team learning to 15 marketing teams in 2018 and 2019. Places are limited!

Leadership skills, for marketers’ business impact and career success, are more important than ever (and more important than most marketers think). That’s why we’ve decided to offer free individual team learning sessions with Thomas or Patrick for 15 marketing teams in 2018 and 2019. This 90 minutes online learning session (and 30 minutes pre-work) will enable your team members to learn the key concepts of marketing leadership–and develop their own personal impact-strategies. Session-focus:

— Mobilize your Boss (being relevant at the organization’s top)
— Mobilize your Colleagues (getting other people to support your cause)

The session is free for every team leader who buys at least 100 copies of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader.

Where’s the catch? There’s none. Thomas and Patrick don’t run consultancies. It’s all about spreading the word to marketers across the globe.

How does it work?

  • Simply contact Thomas and register your interest.
  • Buy 100 or more copies of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader from any source of your choice—and send us a confirmation copy.
  • Agree a convenient date for the session.

Any questions? Please read the FAQ-section at the end of the post.

The 100-Marketers Challenge is limited to 15 teams in 2018 and 2019.

* * *


Q: Do I need to have a 100-strong team to participate?
A: No. You can choose to give to give the spare books to other marketers and colleagues outside your team.

Q: Which topics will you cover?
A: We’ll cover the basics of marketing leadership with a focus on leading upwards (shaping the agenda) and sideways (mobilizing colleagues).

Q: Can we do this session for our clients too?
A: No, this free program is for internal teams only.

Q: Will the session focus on the specifics of our company?

A: The principles of marketing leadership are universal. The company specifics will then come through the questions and discussion during the two sessions.

Q: Do you offer follow up sessions and programs?
A: If you believe, after the session, deepening the content would make for significant impact within your team, Thomas will be happy to discuss options with you.

Q: How will you organize the sessions–technically?
A: Thomas and Paddy will moderate the session and provide short pre-session exercises for your team. All you have to do is manage the invitations on your end and host the session, using your preferred company voice or video conferencing system.

Q: What are the exact steps we need to take after confirming?
A: It might be easiest to ask a senior PA or team assistant to organize the session. The specific steps are:

  • Purchase 100 or more 12 Powers books and send us the confirmation.
  • Schedule a 90-minute voice or video conference with Thomas/Paddy and your team, titled: “The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader Training Session – Mobilizing your Boss and Colleagues”
  • Once your team members have the book, and 2 weeks ahead of the session, Thomas or Paddy will send you a suggested email for your team, detailing the session-content and a suggested pre-reading.
  • After the session, Thomas or Paddy will follow up with an email and further suggested exercises for your team.

The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader

“Everything you need to know to be a superior market leader! Thank you, Barta and Barwise, for sharing your secrets to success!”
—Marshall Goldsmith, The Thinkers 50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World

“A must-read for every present and future CMO who cares about making a difference.”
—Seth Godin, author of All Marketers Are Liars

“Barta and Barwise show in this thoughtful book how marketers can contribute significantly more both to their companies’ success and to their own career paths. Research-based, but brought to life by human beings.”
—Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO, WPP

“A masterful dissection of what it really takes to lead marketing.”
—Syl Saller, global CMO, Diageo, Marketing Society Leader of the Year 2015

“The essential leadership playbook for the CMO of the future.”
—Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer, Procter & Gamble

“ An essential read for any marketing professional looking to take the next step in their career.”
—Dominic Barton, global managing director, McKinsey & Company

“Important reading for anyone wishing to flourish in this most exciting and dynamic field of corporate life.”
—Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

“Stuffed full of sound analysis, crucial career advice, and fascinating case studies—this is an effortless must-read for the ambitious marketer.”
—Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT
“I only wish I had been able to read it a good few years ago!
—Amanda Mackenzie, global CMO, Aviva

“The leadership book for twenty-first-century marketers.”
—Katie Vanneck-Smith, chief customer officer, Global Managing Director International, Dow Jones

“This research-based, yet superbly practical book provides immediate and actionable insights on one of the most challenging boundaries to span – the one between corporate goals and customers. I encourage you to read this book and get into the “V-Zone!”
—Chris Ernst, Ph.D., author of Boundary Spanning Leadership, Global Head, Learning, Leadership & Organization Development, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation

“The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader is a must-read for any marketing leader, with a clear blueprint that will take any marketer’s career to the next level and far beyond. Barta and Barwise have written a highly accessible book that’s engaging, informative and motivating!”
—Barbara Messing, CMO, TripAdvisor

“Barta and Barwise have a unique ability to find and illuminate the essential in marketing. The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader offers invaluable insights and advice on a blindingly important—but rarely talked about—marketing topic: how to achieve marketing success within the organization. It will help any marketer become a true marketing leader.”
—Kevin Lane Keller, E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business

“A truly insightful guide to how good marketing executives can become outstanding leaders and enhance the value of marketing within their organizations.”
—Joan Kaloustian, managing director corporate marketing, MUFG Union Bank

“Here is a must-read book for marketers as leaders. If you have a cause to promote, an ambition to lead, and a desire to perform on the main stage, not in the studio, pursue the practical guidance in these pages and a permanent seat at the top table, if not at its head, will be yours.”
—Richard Hytner, author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, founder, beta baboon and former DY chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide

“Barta and Barwise lay out a clear and compelling road map for helping marketing practitioners become high-impact enterprise leaders. Their success model is deeply grounded in data and experience and provides a framework that works within the ever-changing world of modern marketing.”
—Peter Horst, CMO, The Hershey Company

“This book rejects the ‘one leader fits anywhere’ mentality, and makes a powerful case that leadership practices are ideally tailored to a specific functional area—such as marketing. By meshing relevant research along with personal experience, the authors also make a compelling and incisive argument that leading a group of marketing professionals differs dramatically from being a consummate practitioner.”
—Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman and best-selling co-author of The Extraordinary Leader

“The first evidence-based toolset to ‘lead marketing.’ A must-read for anyone who is serious about leading—not just doing—marketing.”
—Bernie Jaworski, Drucker Chair in Management and the Liberal Arts, Drucker School of Management

“Great marketing leadership is a vital part of driving business growth. This book gets under the skin of what makes a great marketing leader with vital, practical lessons that can be applied to help anyone focus toward future career success.”

—Peter Markey, CMO, Post Office

“This might just become the ‘bible’ for marketing leaders.”
—Sherilyn Shackell, founder and CEO, The Marketing Academy

2019 CMO Fellowship: Applications are open

Who are the most talented global marketers–with clear board potential applications are now open for the 2019 Fellowship, a (free) 9-month mentoring, coaching and learning programme, geared to developing today’s Chief Marketing Officers into tomorrow’s CEOs.

The programme is free of charge for Fellows, though it is highly selective and requires a time commitment of around 12 days between January and September 2019.

The Marketing Academy Fellowship developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company is a powerful, free, part time program for exceptional CMOs & marketing leaders. Participants will get access to board-level thinking and development in all elements of Board stewardship, helping them accelerate their knowledge and experience to take on a future CEO or board role.

I’ll be teaching again the leadership components of the Fellowship. Participants will hence benefit from the 12 Powers research on CMO success–and from the combined team experience when it comes to the CMO->CEO transition.

The Fellowship is taught in Europe, but takes applicants from all regions of the world.

Deadline for applications is 21st October 2018.

New York and London

Do You Know Talented Young US Marketers? The future of marketing depends on its people. Nominations are now open for the first US-based Marketing Academy Scholarship–the program that brings together CEO’s, CMO’s, authors, experts, inspirational speakers, founders of charities and sporting legends to contribute to the curriculum on a pro-bono basis, ensuring the Scholarship is a totally unique and immensely powerful learning experience. After having taken Europe and Australia by storm, Sherilyn and the team are finally putting on a US program.

But hurry: nominations close Sep 07.

The London marketing conference is coming. Join me on October 10 and 11 for the Festival Of Marketing (more interestingly you’ll also get diver Tom Daley, Byron Sharp, and Steve Wozniak).

The number one reason why marketers fail

When marketers fail, both they and their organizations suffer. Yet many marketing officers still haven’t built the key foundation for success: alignment with the CEO. That’s perplexing (from my Forbes column).

This should be marketing’s golden age. Social media, smart phones, big data, and the like: It’s never been easier to understand and reach customers. Yet, it seems, it’s never been easier for CMOs to get sidelined.

Last year, Coke ditched its global CMO in favor of a growth officer (I still ask myself: what, if not growth, was the CMO busy with?). Giants like Colgate-Palmolive, Coty, and Mondelēz have all underemphasized the CMO role by installing all sorts of growth officers. And European Airline EasyJet has just replaced their CMO with a chief data officer. How about CMO tenure? For several years, search firm Spencer Stuart has only been able to report small ups and downs in the (notoriously short) CMO tenure.

It’s complicated

The list of CMO challenges is long. Short-termism creates major headaches, no matter where you look. Digital makes tactical marketing activities more measurable. Now the pressure is on to evaluate and prove everything. That’s obviously difficult when it comes to long-term marketing effects. Traditional lines of responsibility are blurring. Today, customer data, insights, and issues pop up everywhere across the organization. It’s often less then clear who owns what. Add to this the massive growth pressure in saturated markets and it’s easy to see why the CMO role is tough.

Yet one fact continues to perplex me: Alignment between CMOs and the rest of the C-suite is strikingly lacking. We asked 1,232 CMOs worldwide whether they understand what’s right for the business and align marketing with the other company leaders. 76% said yes.

76% appears to be a high number. But it still means 2-3 out of 10 CMOs don’t consider themselves fully aligned with the business.

And what do company leaders say about their CMOs? The picture isn’t rosy—there’s room to improve. When it comes to encouraging new business opportunities (often a top CEO priority), only 59% of all CEOs and GMs rate their CMOs highly.

Internal marketing team alignment is an issue too. Among CEOs and GMs only 43% believe marketing officers make sure their teams know where the organization is headed. These numbers are chilling.

We can always cite other reasons for CMO struggles. But not aligning with the firm’s core agenda seems like a pretty big deal. As a company leader, I’d have second thoughts about my CMO if marketing’s pursuits were unaligned with the business.

Fixing the number one CMO issue: C-suite alignment

As bleak as the alignment numbers appear, the fix may be simple. The following strategies are well known and important, but it’s striking how many top marketers don’t apply them:

Being the company’s best analyst.Before alignment comes understanding. In publicly traded companies, the CEO agenda is partly out in the open. Getting ahold of analyst reports is a good way to understand what matters at the top. When no external reports exist, getting hold of the CEO agenda may involve more lunches with C-suite executives. By adding further internal insights every CMO should quickly be able to grasp the full top-agenda.

For a CMO, understanding the boardroom tide – even better than analysts do – can be a lifeline. And a CMO lifeline is what we need.

Making the case for customers—not for marketing.Even after the real CEO agenda has become clear, aligning the marketing priorities with it can be tough for two reasons.

First off, CEOs can be wrong. Digital Equipment Corporation’s CEO Ken Olsen’s famous quote: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home,” was simply bad judgement. In the same way, CEOs today may ignore important trends or damage valuable brand assets through too much short-term focus. Business success isn’t about aligning the C-suite with marketing—but with customers. There’s no point in blindly following a CEO agenda that’s flawed. Every CMO must be prepared to be the customer voice that stands up to the CEO when necessary. Of all the reasons to get fired, standing up for customers is the most noble.

The second reason for alignment troubles has to do specifically with CMOs. Too many consider themselves marketers first and foremost, and therefore focus primarily on the marketing function. The moment CMOs take this narrow perspective, they fall into misalignment traps. At times, a bigger marketing communication budget just isn’t the most important firm priority. No marketer of struggling Toys “R” US or Sears, for example, would currently worry about long-term brand building while cash is king. Effective CMOs are business leaders with a marketing spike—not the other way around.

There’s more to alignment than the big picture. Subtleties matter. When should a project go on the agenda? When is the right time to stop asking for more funds (or even to return them)? Which agenda should be pushed during a board meeting? Which battle is not worth fighting? Fully aligned CMO get these subtleties right.

When successful CMOs talk “growth”, they foremost mean the business—not the marketing department.

Why effective leaders must manage up, down, and sideways

Strong team leadership isn’t enough. New research shows the importance—for business impact and career success—of also mobilizing your boss and colleagues (from Patrick’s my McKinsey Quarterly article).

Most of the leadership advice aimed at senior functional managers is how to build, align, energize, and guide a world-class team. This is a challenging task in its own right, but we all know it isn’t the whole story. Leaders, even those in the C-suite, must also extend their influence upward and horizontally.

Organization theory suggests that managing upward and sideways is good for both the company and the individual leader’s career: CEOs need the insights and pushback of trusted executives to help sharpen strategy. And complex modern organizations benefit when people engage with their peers across functional and business-unit boundaries to bring a range of perspectives and drive change and innovation.

Our research confirms this theory, and then some. In a wide-ranging study of the leadership actions of chief marketing officers (CMOs)—a good proxy, we believe, for the skills and behaviors of functional leaders in general—we’ve shown how “managing” the CEO and mobilizing colleagues increases business impact and career success. (For leadership research on another C-suite proxy, the CFO, see “How functional leaders become CEOs.”) To test our hypothesis, we asked more than 1,200 senior marketing executives from 71 countries about their perceived business impact (contribution to revenue and profit growth), their career success, and their characteristics against 96 variables. Using statistical techniques (explained below1 ), we were able to relate to these outcomes the 96 variables (which included leadership behaviors, functional skills, personality traits, sociodemographic variables, and external factors, such as peoples’ fit with the company). We supplemented this research by analyzing existing 360-degree data on 7,429 marketing and nonmarketing leaders—a total of 67,278 individual evaluations by these leaders’ bosses, peers, subordinates, and themselves.

Our findings lend support to the notion that senior executives should pay more attention to mobilizing their bosses (managing upward) and functional colleagues (managing horizontally) (exhibit). Taken together, these upward and horizontal actions were about 50 percent more important than managing subordinates for business success (45 percent versus 30 percent)—and well over twice as important for career success (47 percent versus 19 percent).

Why effective leaders must manage up, down, and sideways

Managing upward and horizontally can improve your business impact and career success.

Clearly, there’s more to success than managing up and sideways: leading a high-performance functional team accounted for 30 percent of the explained variation in our CMOs’ business impact, and 19 percent for career success, and managing yourself accounted for the remaining variation. Mobilizing subordinates, in particular, is the base executives need to build from if they want to establish credibility with the CEO and with colleagues. The best executives build strong teams, relentlessly enhance team members’ skills, keep subordinates focused with objective performance measures, and establish an environment conducive to trust and loyalty.

But they also do much more. Our model helped us identify the most important specific actions associated with managing upward and horizontally, and our 360-degree survey data confirmed that some of those actions receive less emphasis than they should.2

Mobilizing your boss: Focus on strategic issues and demonstrate financial results

When we asked CMOs about their primary role, some responded that they “ran the marketing organization” or “led their companies’ advertising and brand campaigns.” We believe many other functional leaders would provide similar departmentally focused responses. By contrast, the most effective and successful leaders in our study were more likely to describe their primary role as increasing company growth or better outreach to customers to improve performance. We found that a key determinant of success was taking on the big issues, those in sync with the CEO’s agenda and contributing to the company’s overall performance. Aligning with the CEO’s strategy explained 10 percent of CMO business impact and 10 percent of career success.

But are functional leaders well aligned with the CEO’s agenda? Seventy-six percent of our CMOs said yes—but just 46 percent of the bosses in our 360-degree database believed their marketers knew where the organization was going. Many functional leaders, it seems, could and should better align with the top.

Building a reputation as an effective user of resources also increases standing with the CEO. In our study, the ability to demonstrate returns explained 12 percent of CMO business impact and 3 percent of career success. Here, we again found a gap: while 67 percent of our CMOs said they had a strong returns orientation, only 39 percent of C-suite executives in another study reported that marketing executives were delivering measurable return on investment for their expenditure.

Mobilizing your colleagues: Forge strong ties with peers to build momentum

If you want to build a “movement” within the company, lead from the front with an inspiring story to win the hearts and minds of colleagues, including those who don’t report to you, and with a clear action plan to deliver tangible results. That can initiate a virtuous circle of internal recognition by energizing a cadre of early followers among colleagues. Our research suggests that leading from the front and having a strong narrative together explained nearly 10 percent of business impact and about 20 percent of career success. The ability to reach beyond the marketing silo to executives in areas such as IT and finance explained an additional 13 percent of the variation in both business impact and career success.

Only 56 percent of CEOs, however, described their marketing leaders as role models who lead from the front, and only 61 percent of CMOs said they use their storytelling skills. Tellingly, while marketers are adept at telling stories that mobilize customers to buy their products, we find they are less likely to ply that strength internally, despite the importance of effective engagement with colleagues.

Mobilizing horizontally means walking the halls, getting out of the office to share ideas with peers, listening to their concerns, and working jointly to attack strategic issues. In theory, leaders could do many of their interactions on video these days. But that’s rarely inspiring. Instead, the best leaders connect directly with as many people as possible through town halls when they travel to local markets, and hunker down to help teams solve their biggest problems.

Fortunately, the actions needed to mobilize the CEO and colleagues are often mutually reinforcing. For instance, moves by functional leaders to build support horizontally are often related to their simultaneous efforts to show tangible results and advance the organization’s strategy.

While CEOs rely on functional leaders’ ability to build high-performance teams, much more needs to be done to help these leaders extend their influence upward into the C-suite and horizontally across the organization. Happily, our work suggests that not only business impact but also career success redounds to those CMOs (and, we believe, functional leaders of all stripes) who can increase their span of leadership influence upward and across functions.

About the author(s)
Thomas Barta is a McKinsey alumnus and was a partner in the firm’s Cologne office; Patrick Barwise is emeritus professor of management and marketing at London Business School. They are coauthors of the new leadership book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value (McGraw-Hill Education, September 2016).