CMOs: More imaginative, outgoing and bolder than the rest of the c-suite

Chief marketing officer’s ability to act unconventionally makes them 49% more imaginative than other c-suite figures. However, the more flamboyant qualities of CMOs can also hinder their progress in becoming a CEO.

The new ‘Inside the Mind of the CMO’ report by executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates is based on data from 36 CMOs across companies totalling more than $1.5 trillion – as well as Russell Reynolds’ own broader database of executives – and split across 60 psychometric scales.

And it claims those who inhabit the most senior role in marketing are generally “innovative, have a pioneering spirit and act unconventionally to test limits.”

As such, CMOs are 30% more outgoing and 34% more likely to take initiative and test limits than other c-suite executives. However, these unique characteristics can also come at a price.

With CMOs 33% more unconventional than other c-suite executives, this trait is listed as one that “hinders” their attempts to become a CEO within an organisation.

They are also 32% more likely to abandon conventional company structures and guidelines, and – perhaps taking inspiration from Don Draper – 29% more likely to display flashy leadership.

“Transformational industries, in particular, are probably better suited to the CMO leadership style, as are companies in the midst of change or innovation programmes,” reads the report. “CMOs may struggle as a CEO in more heavily regulated industries.”

It also advises: “The CMO leadership style can be unconventional, colourful and flashy. CEOs must exhibit measured emotion, and excel at calculated—not careless—risk taking. To take the role, CMOs – who test limits, are bold and upfront in their influencing style – need to moderate how they display some of their more extreme attributes.”

Despite the study’s warnings, it appears that more and more marketers are becoming chief executives.

Just over one fifth (21%) of all FTSE 100 CEOs now come from a sales or marketing background compared to just 15% in 2011, according to recent research from executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

View more on these topics

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here