Being a B2B product, marketing or sales leader is a tough job. Not only does it require being an exceptional leader of people who can unify, enable and grow teams, but it also requires being a revenue leader who can turn business objectives into actionable plans that drive company growth. That’s a tall order. Wouldn’t it be great to know what type of leader you need to be to truly succeed?
When it comes to leadership, one thing is certain – there is no shortage of advice about the leadership characteristics that are required to become a more effective leader. In fact, when I did an internet search on “leadership characteristics,” it returned 518,000,000 results! SiriusDecisions has identified eight leadership characteristics we believe are essential in a B2B environment. The following eight characteristics were chosen based on our daily interactions with thousands of global B2B sales, marketing and product leaders, and our observations of what leadership characteristics consistently drive success:
- Strategic vision. Effective leaders are creative thinkers and innovators.
- The ability to effectively communicate goals and objectives. This is essential if leaders have any hope for realizing their strategic vision.
- A strong commitment to developing people and their skills. You can’t create a high-performance team without it!
- Industry knowledge or expertise. This is something you may bring to a leadership role (maybe it’s the reason you got the job), but if not, you must acquire it to be successful in a leadership role.
- A deep level of knowledge about the entire business. Today, functional leaders must demonstrate strong leadership within their functional domains. However, gaining credibility as a leader also requires an in-depth understanding about the overall business.
- Enabling process. Strong B2B leaders must be willing to champion, invest in and support the need for robust process flow with clear roles and responsibilities and handoff points for critical processes that drive interlock across the revenue-generating functions.
- The ability to make good data-driven decisions. This doesn’t mean that all leaders must be statisticians, but it does mean leaders must have people they can rely on to accurately analyze and interpret data.
- The ability to foster collaboration. At SiriusDecisions, cross-functional alignment between product, sales and marketing is a guiding principle; our research shows that alignment across the revenue engine significantly accelerates growth and increases productivity.
Of course, identifying the leadership characteristics is only the first step – it’s the application of these characteristics that drives great success. While all eight of them are important, they are not necessarily equal parts in every situation. The application requires contextual or situational leadership intelligence. This is defined as the ability to understand an evolving environment, and to capitalize on those evolving trends. Simply put, it is not just who you are that matters, but also who you are in the context of a specific situation.
To learn more, join me and my colleague Jay Gaines on November 14 at 12 p.m. EST for our webcast “Take Me to Your Leader: The Leadership Traits That Matter Most for B2B Success.” We will be revealing the results of the 2018 B2B Leadership Study that examined the importance of these eight essential characteristics in the context of how an organization plans to grow and the strategic initiatives that enable growth.