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  • Writer's pictureDominic Cincotta

CPG Marketing Team Manager Guide to Leadership


Management to Leadership


“The superior man is easy to serve and difficult to please.” - Confucius

You have a title of manager, but does that make you a leader? “According to Brown and Gioia, leadership is not solely a set of characteristics possessed by an individual but an emergent property of a social system, in which ‘leaders’ and ‘followers’ share in the process of enacting leadership.” (Jackson and Parry, 2008, pg 91.) I find this definition appropriate for managers who want to run independent and successful mobile marketing teams for consumer packaged goods. Achieving this social system is the purpose behind this field guide. The goal is to develop a set of systems and guiding principles that will capitalize on you natural traits, your abilities according to your title, and your desire to develop as a person.

The first job is to understand what successful leadership looks like. There are three main theories of leadership: Transformational, Transactional, and Charismatic.

  • Transformational Leadership: “The Transformational Leader seeks overtly to transform the organization, there is also a tacit promise to followers that they also will be transformed in some way, perhaps to be more like this amazing leader. In some respects, then, the followers are the product of the transformation.” (Changingminds.org)

  • Transactional Leadership: “Transactional leadership is based in contingency, in that reward or punishment is contingent upon performance.” (Changingminds.org)

  • Charismatic Leadership: “The Charismatic Leader gathers followers through dint of personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority” (Changingminds.org)

  • It is when we effectively learn to balance these forms of leadership that we will become effective, balanced leaders.

Vision/Mission Statement



“A man is not as big as his belief in himself; he is as big as the number of persons who believe in him.” – Woodrow Wilson

“The mission statement should be a clear and succinct representation of the enterprise's purpose for existence. It should incorporate socially meaningful and measurable criteria addressing concepts such as the moral/ethical position of the enterprise, public image, the target market, products/services, the geographic domain and expectations of growth and profitability.” (http://www.businessplans.org/Mission.html) The first step to quality leadership is to develop a mission statement that communicates your brand values and the values of the team you will employ to represent your brand. Sometimes it is best to cooperate with other representatives of your organization in order to align with a common vision and goal so that the brand message is consistent across an array of contexts and cultures.

The next step is to communicate your vision/mission statement in a way that can be easily decoded by your employees or followers. This will require not only an oral representation, but could include visual and interactive components. By delivering in multiple formats, you will ensure that biases and impediments to decoding and understanding of the message are avoided.


Employee (Follower) Selection



“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In the CPG industry and the marketing teams that we use, we enjoy the luxury of being able to create a quality team of followers and employees. This begins by understanding our leadership capabilities and methods. Are you a micro-manager or a macro-manager? What do you expect from your employees? Once you have developed an honest evaluation of your skills and expectation you can develop a model of the employee that will respond to your leadership style and will represent your brand in the proper manner. As stated in the book Good To Great (2001) by Jim Collins, it is key to first get the right people on the bus and then get them in the right seats.

One of the first steps to finding your next great employee is developing a quality job description. Very simply, a job description is: (http://www.extension.org/faq/4698):

  • Title

  • Job Summary

  • Job Tasks, Responsibilities, and Authorities

  • Job qualifications

  • Supervision

  • Working Conditions

As good leaders, our goal is to secure the best possible following and set of employees. A good job description should be based on acquiring those employees. The deeper in depth and more specific in organizational needs a leader can be, the better fit for the company a selected employee will be. This will avoid extraneous costs in hiring, training, and testing an employee with a high risk of failure due to poor organizational suitability.

Interview design is paramount in finding a quality followership. The leadership and followership relationship is based on a common understanding and goal. Your interview should be designed to find people who ascribe to your mission statement, embrace your company values and culture, and are willing to share and work towards the common goal. You should look for people who represent your brand/organization in the proper way.

By creating and molding a quality and responsive followership, you reduce the risk of destructive conflict and productivity problems. There are levels to build on in order to create a trust and constructive group buy-in without creating group-think. There is a difference between conflict and constructive disagreement.


Conflict



“There aren’t any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.” – Adm. William F. Halsey


Team dysfunction is outlined by Patrick Lencioni (2002) in his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” By understanding this model you will be better equipped to ensure a committed and productive team. According to Lencioni, there are 5 levels in building a cohesive team. He states on pg. 187 of his book, “These dysfunctions can be mistakenly interpreted as five distinct issues that can be addressed in isolation of the other. But in reality they form an interrelated model, making susceptibility to even one of them potentially lethal for the success of a team.” I will distill these 5 dysfunctions below:

  • Absence of Trust: This is bred through a fear of communication and vulnerability. Leaders should work to create trust by showing concern for the Universal Fear of Insignificance (need for respect and love (why we do or do not achieve, love, forgive, trust, lead, follow, deceive...all the things we do to assure that we are recognized by someone whose opinion and interest we care about). Distilled by Buckingham from Brown, D. (1991). Human universals. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

  • Fear of Conflict: This is a manifestation of the first dysfunction and stems from a fear of constructive disagreement. Employees who are not able to address concerns will not find fulfillment in their jobs. A leader should always encourage disagreement in the pursuit of improved group performance.

  • Lack of Commitment: Employees who cannot disagree and address their concerns with trust will fail to move business forward. This can lead to a culture of group think or a lack of ideas which can be condemning in the quick-paced world of CPGs. A leader must attend to the needs of his/her employees in order to expect commitment to the future. Feigned commitment will not contribute to a truly high functioning team and it may be destructive to the team.

  • Avoidance of Accountability: If a manager has not gained the commitment of his/her employees, the employees will avoid making tough decisions and accepting responsibility for the execution of those decisions. This will result in finger-pointing and a culture of irresponsibility and blame. A leader should take all steps to follow the rational-decision making process to ensure commitment, buy-in, and task accountability.

  • Inattention to results: If employees have had no input or accountability for group decisions and execution, results will not matter to them. If results are not the goal, a leader must ask, “What is the goal?” Avoidance? An effective leader breeds a vision and goal that is mutually beneficial and by which the followers will be committed to a successful result.

Feedback Cycles



“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” – Walter Lippmann


According to Kinicki (2009, pg 8), “mangers in well-run organization follow up goal setting with a feedback program to provide a rational basis for adjustment and improvement.” There are three forms of feedback: Others, Task, and Self:

  • Others: Peers, supervisors, lower-level employees, and outsiders

  • Task: Success or failure

  • Self: Depends on self-confidence and honest evaluation

The key focus for a leader of teams in the CPG industry will be the feedback from employees, co-workers, and consumers. This allows feedback from employees, co-workers, and consumers. The preferred form in today’s Cultural Management is the 360-degree feedback. Kinicki (2009, pg 206) define this as, “Letting individuals compare their own perceived performance with behaviorally specific (and usually anonymous) performance information from their managers, subordinates, and peers...The idea is to let individuals know how their behavior affects others, with the goal of motivating change.” As we have stated earlier, the CPG market is rapidly changing and there is constant need for improvement. There are many forms of this feedback

  • Social Media: By paying attention to relevant social media such as Facebook, blogs, and Twitter a leader is better able to receive feedback from consumers. This is vital in today’s world of options and innovation. The market is now driven by consumer demands and not industry decisions.

  • The employee review: A quality employee review process is imperative to commitment and quality improvement. All employee reviews should include an employee self evaluation section in which the employee is required to provide quantitative and qualitative feedback on their own performance. This review should reflect the job descriptions that were carefully designed to reflect the desired following. This gives the employee a sense of control and input into his/her future with the organization.

  • Open communication: One of the best forms of feedback comes from the sense of trust and community which is bred by a good leader. This trust will flow upward from employees to managers through suggestions concerning ways to improve business. Do not discount the ability of the front-line employee’s ability to solve issues through experience and focus.

Creating a regular cycle of feedback as featured in the diagram below will create performance management expectations. Kinicki (2009, pg 200) defines this as, “an organization wide system whereby managers integrate the activities of goal setting, monitoring and evaluating, providing feedback and coaching and rewarding employees on a continuous basis.” Jackson and Parry (2008, pg 58) go on to state, “Keith Grint has noted that leaders can learn a lot about how to lead from their followers. He draws an intriguing parallel between the challenge of learning how to lead for the first time and the challenge of learning how to become a good parent, noting that ‘in both cases, and counter-intuitively, it is the junior that teach their subordinates how to lead’ (2005, pg 104). In order to do this, open, honest and continual feedback is essential.”


Ethics



“If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.” – Horace Mann


“We are struck by the uplifting effects of lower profile but genuine leaders who lead by example in fostering healthy ethical climates characterized by transparency, trust, integrity, and high moral standards,” according to Jackson and Parry (2008, pg 99). As good leaders we must strive to instill this positive ethical climate in order to produce these desired traits in our organizations. Good leaders will produce true followers, focus on the best of people, and are concerned with developing more leaders, while bad leaders will produce submissive disciples, focus on the worst in people, and are concerned with remaining in power according to Jackson and Parry. This is an important concern when we consider the type of team we want to develop and manage. We must ask ourselves which type of team and leader, would we prefer to function under. The first type is the optimal choice. This makes it only ethical that we try to emulate this type of leadership and communication with our employees.

Ethical considerations pertain to how we function and make decisions. We must consider all of the concerns and the best health of the organization, not always our own personal preference. As leaders we have an ethical obligation to function within the law and to keep our organization profitable and our followers happy through positive action.


Training



“There are some men who live the age they inhabit, till all men walk on higher ground in that lifetime.” – Maxwell Anderson


Constant training and skill improvement is consistently needed in the CPG industry as a result of product development and changing marketing strategies. While training and can be a tedious task, it can also be fun. The most effective form of training is using what the Boston based group, Improv Asylum, calls the “aha!” moment. This is when you create a situation but a gap is left for the employee to see the desired result before it is revealed to them. With CPG marketing teams, our organizations deal intimately with consumer interactions. Improv exercises provide a great training tool. With small modifications, they will not only improve your employee’s interaction skills, but teach them how to do this effectively while educating about your product. A list of these exercises can be found at http://improvencyclopedia.org/games//index.html.


Reward and Incentives



“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk, M.D.


In an organization that is well developed and has a defined and desired result with committed followers and leaders, rewards and incentives can be one of the greatest sources of organizational development. Good leaders should always strive to develop new talent and impact the business in the best possible way. This can involve assigning responsibility and situational leadership to employees. “Both path goal theory and situational leadership theory focus on the subordinates’ perspective. The attentiveness of these theories to the needs of the situation and their incorporations of the subordinates in the leader’s choice of action give them strong face validity and public appeal,” according to Antonakis (2004, pg 162).

A leader must assess the impact of involving employees in management decisions on a situational basis. You may have a need for a particular skill or this responsibility can be used as an incentive to move up in the company. A performance based evaluation and feedback system will work into this situation very nicely. Goals defined by the review process should involve leadership development. These goals can be reached and exceeded through leaders who reward with organizational opportunity. If the employee is the right employee and desires to move up the ladder of your organization, the opportunity to take on a leadership role will serve as positive reinforcement for quality performance.


References:

  1. Atonakis, John., Cianciolo, Anna.,Sternburg, Robert. (2004). The Nature Of Leadership.Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage Publ.

  2. Business Resource Software, Inc. (2004) Mission Statements. Retrived from http://www.businessplans.org/Mission.html on Sept. 21, 2009.

  3. Buckingham from Brown, D. (1991). Human universals. Boston: McGraw-Hill

  4. Changingminds.org (2009) Charismatic Leadership. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/charismatic_leadership.htm on Sept. 23, 2009.

  5. Changingminds.org (2009) Transactional Leadership. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/transactional_leadership.htm on Sept. 23, 2009

  6. Changingminds.org (2009) Transformational Leadership. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/transformational_leadership.htm on Sept. 23, 2009

  7. Collins, Jim. (2001). Good To Great. New York, NY. Harper Collins Publishing.

  8. eXtension. (2009). Job Description. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/faq/4698 on Sept. 21, 2009

  9. Grint, K. (2005). Leadership: Limits and Possibilities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  10. Improv Encyclopedia. (2007). Improv Games. Retrieved from http://improvencyclopedia.org/games//index.html on Sept. 21, 2009

  11. Jackson, B. & Parry, K. (2008). A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publ.

  12. Kinicki, Angelo., Kreitner, Robert. (2009) Organizational Behavior: Key Concepts, Skills, & Best Practices. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

  13. Lencioni, Patrick. (2002) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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