Thomas Barta: To instigate change, first you must prove yourself

As a marketer you can only instigate change if you have a proven track-record and people believe in your ability – it’s about building up credit.


“You can help us build a love brand. I want to hire you,” the CEO said. Nina was thrilled. Her last years in consumer goods had been tough. Tight margins. Aggressive competitors. A firm, in which everyone was a marketer. This telecoms CEO promised something very different. The company was growing and the CEO wanted to create a “love brand”. Nina was the marketing guru. They needed her. Love at first sight. Nina signed.

Two years later, Nina was out. The stint was a disaster. Early on, she had analysed where the firm needed improvement to become a love brand. She shed light on the points; she made ambitious plans. When people raised doubts, she pushed back and shared examples from her vast blue-chip marketing experience. Technically, her plans were good. But Nina never gained traction. Eventually, she threw in the towel and left.

Nina lacked what psychologist Edwin Hollander calls idiosyncrasy credits, also known as I-credits, the credits that give outsiders the right to challenge the norms. You can’t buy I-credits, you can’t borrow them in a CEO meeting. I-credits are a membership benefit. The only way to rack them up is by making real, positive contributions to a group.

Thomas Barta Try This

Try This: To make change happen, first become a group member. Take time to understand what’s actually going on. Walk the shop floor, help out in the call centre, work in the store. Become part of the group by adding real value. Don’t propose change unless people can say, ‘She really knows what she’s talking about’.

Thomas Barta is a marketing leadership expert, speaker and the co-author of ‘The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’. He has teamed up with Marketing Week to launch the Marketing Leadership Masterclass, a new CPD-accredited online course designed to equip marketers with everything they need to become a better leader. To find out more and book your place visit

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