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CMO to CEO: How Marketing Leaders Can Make The Ultimate Transition

Author ryan.drawdy Category Uncategorized

Were you destined to become a CEO?

Perhaps you’ve known since you were little that you were meant to lead.

Maybe throughout your whole career, you’ve been working up the ranks to at last reach the long-awaited CEO office.

This dream was not Elisa Steele’s. Strangely enough, she’s now the CEO of Namely. Elisa was happy and successful as CMO, however, obviously had the CEO chops.

#TakeoverTuesday host Katie Bullard asks Elisa how she made the transition from CMO to CEO and if she has any advice for others looking to do the same.

As a matter of fact, she does.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Excelling in your current role
  • Being the hub of the company as CMO
  • 4 factors to focus on as a CMO reaching for CEO

This post is based on a podcast with Katie Bullard from DiscoverOrg and Elisa Steele from Namely. You can listen to the full episode here or below.

Excel in your current role

Want to reach the CEO chair? Become really good at the job you have now.

In other words, don’t put the cart before the horse. You won’t get anywhere. Use the time you have now to excel above and beyond at your current role.

Elisa notes that the position you’re in right now is the one your team and leadership needs you in. Putting your team first is crucial for organizational success. By demonstrating how you can achieve your goals and help others do the same, you will organically grab the attention of the rest of your C-suite.

CMOs are the hubs of their companies

Elisa points out that CMOs are very similar to CEOs, but are looking through a marketing lens.

As a CMO, you have a great deal of responsibility for your team and the organization as a whole. Understanding that any decision you make is likely affecting every department of your company is crucial to be a successful CMO and potential CEO.

It’s also important to recognize how to collaborate with the rest of the C-suite. Your focus is on marketing functions, but you need to see how your actions affect the entire organism. Gaining the trust of the rest of your C-suite takes empathy and deep knowledge of all the inner workings of your organization.

On top of that, work to drive a culture of effective collaboration within your team. You can do this by:

  • Hiring people that complement your strengths
  • Being accountable
  • Focusing on the needs of your team
  • Encouraging collaboration in team and customer relationships

Want to be CEO? Focus on these 4 factors.

Elisa never pictured herself as CEO until she realized she had a strong understanding of every part of the organization. She then knew that she could offer a lot as the CEO.

How did she move into this transitional mindset? By considering these four ideas every day as CMO:

  1. Revenue. How am I contributing to the growth and health of the company?
  2. Reach. How am I helping the company to be seen and understood in the areas it matters most?
  3. Relationships. Am I helping myself and my team facilitate relationships with customers, partners, and coworkers?
  4. Reputation. How does the public view our company?

Asking herself these questions every day as CMO prepared Elisa to think more like a CEO. The rest of the C-suite took notice.

Put your team first

Whether it’s always been your dream to be CEO or you’re like Elisa and it manifests organically, always put your team’s needs first. By doing this, you will naturally excel in your current role, gain insight into other departments, and – ultimately – drive your organization to success.

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