At a certain point in your marketing career, it might feel the next step is to move into management in marketing departments or firms. But is it the right move? Management has to take so much more in account than marketing, including the ins and outs of the overall business.
“Becoming a manager requires a transformation of your professional identity,” says Linda A. Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School in Are You Cut Out for Management?
Marketers who have an eye on management would be smart to remember that soft skills are often as important as specialization
In fact, moving into management means you will be doing less of the pure hands-on marketing and more ensuring that everyone is on the same page working toward the same vision. If you live for the rush of campaign and the hands-on creation of ad packaging, branding and so on, management may not be for you.
“The first question you’ve got to ask is, ‘Why do you want it?’ You may think that’s my natural progression in my career, but it’s not the natural progression for everybody … So the advice I always give people is to really understand what the job entails and make sure that’s how you want to spend your time,” Mike Indursky, current President of beauty marketer Bliss World, was quoted as saying in Can Marketers Jump to General Management? Two Execs on Making the Shift.
Who would make a Good Manager?
For both Industry and Anton, their success has come from being big-picture people who happened to come up in the industry through marketing.
“I like having the opportunity to interact with all the functions. As a marketer, you still do that, but as a general manager you’re by definition setting a vision for the whole team and I enjoy that,” relates John Anton, VP-general manager, VP & GM Ace Business Unit at Valspar, in Can Marketers Jump to General Management? Two Execs on Making the Shift.
According to Indursky, the trend of specialization in marketing may actually be a barrier for marketers to make the jump to general manager. It makes sense that if a career is focused on one aspect of marketing, it may be hard to expand into all duties it takes to run an entire marketing department or an entire firm.
Marketers who have an eye on management would be smart to remember that soft skills are often as important as specialization — and they seem to be a rare commodity in today’s workplace. A Bloomberg BusinessWeek study found that over 60 percent of managers agree that soft skills are most important when evaluating an employee’s performance. When breaking down which soft skills are most important for management roles, managers chose the ability to prioritize work, having a positive attitude and teamwork skills.
Can General Management Still be involved in Marketing?
Depending on the size of you organization, managers may still be able to participate in marketing to an extent. But for the most part, once you are in general management, it’s time to get your hand out of the proverbial cookie jar.
“I think you have to let go of the marketing. You can obviously still get involved and have an opinion, but I think it’s probably a disservice to the team if you still try to lead the creative and all the brand strategy work,” Anton advises.