You don’t need a crown to be a powerful leader

Ruth Mortimer

I am recovering, along with the rest of the UK, from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The enormous brand cash-in to commemorate the monarch’s 60 years on the throne has involved pretty much every brand from Marmite (renamed Ma’Mite) to computer games The Sims (using Royalty-themed characters).

The theme from the Jubilee that will last longer than the champagne from street parties is leadership. The Queen has been on the throne for six decades, which is longer than many of the world’s most successful brands – including Google and Apple – have been in existence.

But very few corporate leaders have the benefit of a birthright taking them to the throne. In the world of brands, it tends to be a mixture of merit, discipline, hard work, luck and often, force of personality.

One man with his personality driving his entire business from the top was Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs. His former colleague Ken Segall, who was creative director at Apple’s agency Chiat Day, has written a book about the company’s philosophy called Insanely Simple.

Segall explains in this interview how Jobs’ personality dominated the business, setting the standard for all employees to work towards. Whether it was product names, advertising or management, the company’s founder tackled all these issues himself or ensured the decisions were made in his image. It’s a fascinating set of insights into an iconic leader.

It would not work for all companies to have personalities like Jobs at the top of the tree, however. Many top marketers are promoting intense collaboration as their strategy for business success. In our CMO Strategy section this month, three teams of chief marketing officers and chief information officers explain how they work together.

“We are now finding new ways of working that enable us to turn around activities in days and weeks, rather than months and years, which is exactly what we need.,” explains Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed, praising how collaborations between CMOs and CIOs can improve business leadership.

As for marketing’s next generation of leaders, we are pretty sure that those scholars identified by our partner organisation The Marketing Academy have a bright future ahead.

This week’s cover story examines the personality traits and profiles of all those people identified as the next corporate leaders to try and build up an image of what is needed to succeed at the top of organisations today.

Will these people be the next Steve Jobs? They don’t want to be; they simply want to succeed – and no doubt they will – on their own terms.

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