Adopting A Growth Mindset Is The Answer To CMO Success

CMOs can stay ahead of the curve, adopt new skill sets, and constantly innovate with a growth mindset. Here are five steps you can take to not only adopt this mindset for yourself, but also encourage your team to do the same.

Adopting A Growth Mindset Is The Answer To CMO Success

by Rajan Kohli

Posted on 02-18-2018

From the factory floor to the corner office, few seem sure about how to prepare for the “future of work.” And with good reason: The age of rapid technological evolution means you simply cannot be content with the skills you have now or even the innate talent you were born with.

This is especially true for CMOs, who are already scrambling to rethink their marketing organizations while simultaneously worrying if their own individual skills and experience will be relevant a few years down the line. CMOs are charged with navigating companies through the digital ruckus, serving as the first line of attack when it comes to interpreting customer data, and weeding out the key insights that will guide their company’s path forward.

The good news is that there’s a simple, decades-old approach to learning in the workplace that can help CMOs—and other marketers—stay ahead of the curve, adopt new skill sets, and constantly innovate: a growth mindset.

This approach theory proposes that individuals who believe that their talents can be improved through hard work, feedback, and strategy will be the more successful at work versus those who believe talent is finite and determined at birth. This mindset can help CMOs form habits and behaviors that will help them acquire new skills in real time, explore their passions, and learn to embrace failure as a necessary step toward success.

Here are five steps you can take to not only adopt this mindset for yourself, but also encourage your team to do the same:

1. Accept What You Don’t Know—And Then Put In The Work To Learn

By now, few company leaders would deny that every industry has changed dramatically over the last few decades. In marketing especially, advancements like the rise of e-commerce and social media have completely altered the game. As such, many CMOs find themselves underprepared when it comes to tech. In fact, Gartner reports that only half of CMOs consider themselves well equipped to acquire and manage technology.

This self-awareness is half the battle, and the first step to adopting a growth mindset. Once you are comfortable with owning up to your blind spots, it becomes very clear what skills and knowledge you need to acquire to fill in the gaps.

2. Ask Questions, Experiment, And Collaborate

Asking questions, receiving feedback, and working with others to share knowledge is a key component of the growth mindset. When even the most experienced industry leaders are willing to lean on others and ask questions when they feel overwhelmed, their entire companies benefit.

Think back to the days when Twitter and Facebook were in their infancy. Very few CMOs at the time understood how to leverage these new platforms to interact with consumers and garner valuable insights. Instead, many companies hired social media managers to come in and essentially teach their “more experienced” colleagues how to use these channels. If a CMO had chosen to ignore social rather than collaborate with those with firsthand experience, the company’s marketing strategy would surely have suffered.

3. Go Beyond Your Individual Growth And Become A “Servant Leader”

Just like any leader, the most successful CMOs remove barriers that stifle creativity and encourage their teams to be assertive and self-direct. For example, Google has a longstanding 80/20 policy, which allows employees to devote 20% of their day to passion projects in hopes that doing so will give employees the necessary time to experiment and become inspired.

Leaders who adopt this mindset prioritize the growth of their employees and teams. This often means helping employees work through a resistance to change, especially when it comes to working with new technologies—and often difficult-to-understand technologies—such as chatbots and other AI-fueled tools.

4. Embrace Failure As An Important Part Of The Creative Process

Inevitably, constant experimentation will result in a few setbacks or even outright failures. Having a growth mindset allows you to fail fast (and often), learn quickly from this hiccup, and either make necessary adjustments to your strategy or move on to the next big idea.

Take, for instance, Facebook’s Oculus Rift. While this product never gained much traction with its intended audience of videogamers, the company has been able to find many additional uses for this VR technology, including in the healthcare and automotive spaces. In fact, Oculus technology is actually changing the way doctors treat and understand numerous medical conditions.

5. Finally, Commit To Lifelong Learning

Mindsets are shaped by the habits, behaviors, and cultures that are becoming part of our daily lives. An individual who truly embodies this growth mindset accepts that there is no end-point when it comes to self-improvement, education, and reskilling.

Technology and innovations aren’t slowing down any time soon—and the marketing industry is still only at the beginning of what promises to be a massive transformation. The CMOs who commit now to a growth mindset will not only ensure that they themselves stay relevant in the coming years, but will also help create a company culture that embraces failure, encourages experimentation, and refuses to be sidelined by the rise of new technology.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Leadership, Experience Cloud, Trends & Research, Insights Inspiration, Digital Transformation, Future of Work, CMO by Adobe

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