Leaders need more than flair for marketing

With reference to your report that asked “Are marketers just too innumerate to lead a company?” (MW 23 June), to question the ability of marketers to become leaders of industrial organisations is something of a fatuous exercise. You might just as well ask “Are accountants/ engineers/personnel managers/ shopfloor workers qualified to head up companies?”

No professional group can claim as a body that they are qualified to do anything good or bad in industry. As a lifetime successful marketer, I have always been appalled at the incompetence of many young and not-so-young people who claim to be marketers. These are the people who seem to jump from job to job on a regular basis, presumably after their lack of marketing ability has been sussed out by the CEO.

Marketing at the creative end is essentially entrepreneurial flair combined with an ability to analyse historical data and use it correctly for future planning.

But the overall management of a company certainly requires much more than marketing flair, it requires man management, financial management, vision and a personal commitment to the job that often goes far beyond a nine to five day.

Some years ago there was a general belief in industry that the company accountant or chief financial officer was the only man to take over from the CEO when he came to retire. This may have been successful with some companies but ruined many others because vision and lateral thinking together with a dedicated work ethic were not automatically part of most accountants’ natural psyche. They are generally good at saving money but bad at making money. Thank heavens that belief is now a thing of the past.

Successful bosses of industry are not created through professional training even though that experience is valuable. They are born into the task and as such can emerge from any profession or even from the shop floor. You only have to check out how many successful leaders of companies come from a professional marketing background for the point to be proved.

George Lawson

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