By Adriaan Groenewald
Is it necessary to market yourself in order to be successful in your corporate career? Is just being competent at your job enough anymore? Is it your responsibility to manage your own career? If you need to manage your own career and market yourself, what model should you use and how should you go about it, especially in a competitive global environment? Moditure Consulting MD ADRIAAN GROENEWALD finds answers to these questions from people at the top.
In an attempt to answer the compelling question of how important career management and self-marketing is to people in today's corporate environment, I have interviewed several prominent South African CEOs and MDs from organisations such as MTN, Reuters, Cozens Recruitment, and Liberty; and I have closely studied the careers of several well known global business leaders.
Many of the questions posed to the CEOs and MDs interviewed are in line with elements of corporate strategic marketing. The interview questions included:
- Did you consciously or subconsciously market yourself during
your corporate career in order to
- Did you brand yourself?
- Did you have a vision of wanting to be a senior business leader?
- Did you consciously and continually assess your environment?
- Did you analyse your own strengths and weaknesses?
- Did you proactively strive to improve your weaknesses?
- Did you proactively capitalise on your strengths?
The answers to each of these questions were overwhelmingly "yes"! It seems that those who make it to the top of organisations generally have the ability to be more than competent at their jobs and can apply the principles of strategic marketing to themselves and their desired career paths.
A very interesting trend among those interviewed was that young corporate leaders (from late 20s to 40) seemed much more aware of the need to market themselves than did the older leaders. The reason for the early success of the young leaders seems to be that they mastered the art of strategically and responsibly marketing themselves.
This is not to say that the older business leaders did not market themselves. It appears that their marketing efforts were on a subconscious level, while their competency was still a major contributing factor to their successes.
Today, competency is a minimum requirement. What you do beyond mere competence is what matters, and what will differentiate you.
A number of important principles emerged from the interviews and studies. The first principle is that you have to learn how to market yourself in the competitive corporate environment of today. Competency is a given.
The second principle is that you have to acquire the skills of strategic marketing, and learn how to apply them to yourself. These principles are not exclusive to corporations.
A big barrier to successfully marketing yourself could be your personal perceptions of what it means to do this marketing. Self-marketing does not mean sucking up to the boss. It means understanding the aspirations of your target market (managers, businesses and customers), and then integrating your aspirations with theirs. This is marketing.
Personal strategic marketing plan
Managing your own career sounds quite simple in theory, but in practice it is not. The question is: where do you learn the skills to manage your career effectively?
A strategic marketing plan for "You Incorporated" is what you need. To help you craft this, and then to help guide you in its implementation, you need a career strategist or coach.
The interviews revealed that most of the MDs and CEOs believe it is important to consult with a personal career strategist: someone who understands strategy and marketing; has the ability to teach you the true meaning of marketing; understands aspirations and how to integrate them; and understands the dynamics of business.
The coach must have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to give you well rounded training. They must teach you to assess and understand your environment and to market yourself accordingly.
Learning and applying these skills will benefit you and your organisation in many ways:
- You will become more proactive and accountable for what happens to you in your career;
- Your general business acumen will improve;
- You will be more focused on the needs of your leaders, and
the strategies needed to service those
- You will understand important economic, social, cultural,
political, and technological trends within and
outside of your company;
- You will learn the skills to understand your environment as a totality;
- You will act more like an entrepreneur inside the structures of your company; and
- You will develop the ability to understand your company's
strategies sufficiently enough to proactively
integrate yourself with it.
More often than not, organisations are confronted with the dilemma of employees not taking ownership of the business or feeling accountable towards it. This problem has its roots in staff not understanding the principles of managing their own careers.
Without self-marketing strategies, they usually have cradle-to-the-grave or the-employer-owes-me attitudes. Every day is spent clock watching; they walk in at eight and leave again at exactly five. At best, they are conscientious but they lack the passion, energy, drive, innovation, initiative and full accountability that could turn them into entrepreneurs.
Teaching employees strategic self-marketing skills is an effective, bottom-up strategy that profitable leaders can implement to create an empowered, accountable and motivated culture.
Leadership consulting firm Moditure specialises in developing profitable leaders and employees in commerce and civic society through the integration of three universal principles: motivation, direction and structure. This is achieved by a focus on the universal "How Formula" needed to implement these three principles.
The company has developed several models around these principles. Tested in various leadership, organisational and personal environments, these models are designed to cultivate profitable leaders, and empower leaders and staff at all levels to manage their attitudes and feelings.
Moditure MD Adriaan Groenewald has co-authored and published the "CEO Leadership Handbook", which studies prominent South African figures such as former president Nelson Mandela, Pick 'n Pay CEO Sean Summers, Wiphold CEO Louisa Mojela, and JSE President Russell Loubser.
Adriaan Groenewald, Moditure Consulting, (012) 653 3022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melanie Spencer, FHC Strategic Communications, (011) 608 1228, email@example.com