Some might say that a CMO's work is never done, but I think the more appropriate aphorism would be that 'a CMO's work knows no bounds'. The scope keeps expanding, but so does our learning, thanks, in part, to a robust peer network that sets our bar for success ever higher. Today, I'm looking at Phil Granof, former CMO of Black Duck, an open source software management company. For Granof, good marketing works from the inside out. In just a matter of months, he methodically worked to transform the company culture, knowing that Black Duck's marketing claims would only stick if they were embodied in its internal makeup, and vice versa.
His knack for influence was so apparent that Granof rightly earned himself a Leadership Award from The CMO Club in last year's CMO Awards. So, below, we'll focus less on his thoughts on marketing and more on the leadership that helps marketing thrive, as Granof is an expert on the topic. Taking just a glimpse into his prowess, read on for his perspective on motivating employees and how to lead through internal change.
The Math Behind Motivation
When I suggest that some people are born leaders, Granof among them, he stops me in my tracks.
"I'm not sure anyone is actually a born leader," he says. "I think there are those that are born thinking they can, or should, lead, but that only gives them one advantage, which is the confidence to seek a leadership position, and it most certainly does not guarantee success." So, what's the big lesson to be learned if one wants to take charge and build a successful team?
Granof says that of all the thinking out there, what he's found most enduring is that people must want to work for you.
"Talent is free to move where it will, and technology fuels this mobility," he says. "So, as a leader, my goal has always been to win the hearts and minds of the most talented team I could find. That means trading value for value."
According to Granof, your workers will make a judgment about whether you're worth following based on a value equation with three moving parts:
- Intrinsic return: "Intrinsic return is the value a person receives cognitively and emotionally. Are they growing as a person? Are they feeling a sense of accomplishment? Are they developing and learning?" Granof says. "If the position you create for an employee lacks this return for effort, you can say goodbye to holding on to good people." Those left, he says, will be unhappy, jaded and unproductive, to say the least. Their salary and benefits maybe the stuff of dreams, but unless they feel personally fulfilled by the work you offer, they'll likely soon depart for greener pastures.
- Extrinsic return: The second part of the equation is all about these external benefits. "Extrinsic return is the value a person receives materially, and so is the most important and least important of the three dimensions," says Granof. It's more than just pay, however - it's about compensation, giving your workers the resources they need to succeed. "The cost and complexity of these tools tends to rise with a person's talent," he says. "Have you ever seen someone begging for a better computer? The best people know exactly what they need to do their job. Get it to them, if you value them."
- Collective return: The third dimension is the most underappreciated, in Granof's estimation. Collective return, he says, deals with what the company can provide to the employee's network, be it his or her coworkers, family, customers or the larger community. Granof says that the ability to recognize collective value "separates not only great leaders from average leaders, but great companies from average companies." Collective return gives the employee a real reason to believe in you as a leader and in the company - the assessment of whether or not the work is truly worth it, in other words.
Recalibrating Your Numbers
Granof successfully put these principles to task in his efforts to reshape not only Black Duck's marketing strategy, but also its company culture and, by extension, the ability to live and breathe its brand - to look, act and sound like a duck, if you will. He began by convincing HR of the internal changes that needed to occur, and soon helped the company find a brand position that jived with the company at large. But as all CMOs know, challenges inevitably arise beyond our own desire to create change, namely the comings-and-goings of our colleagues.
It seems like just when you've got a solid team, someone leaves, which is especially tough to swallow when the employee was a staple of the group. Granof, on this point: "I believe it is critical to understand if the long-time staffer is a 'tipping point' in the organization, or simply an overlooked issue." If a "tipping point," then it's important to proceed carefully, since that person likely wielded a great deal of influence in the company culture. This is when that value equation will help you assess the health of your team.
The upside, Granof says, is that turnover enables you to go on what he calls a treasure hunt within your staff.
"I personally found three hidden gems in the organization that had been overshadowed and overlooked for various reasons," he says of a recent departure, "and now they are thriving. Had we blindly seen quiet people as underperforming, it would have been a big loss."
Proving that in leadership as in marketing, understanding your consumers - and colleagues - is of the utmost importance.
In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Phil Granof, click here.