The Egoist, Strategist, and Tactician

Sales and marketing leaders come in all types of personalities and leadership styles.  Figuring out what ‘makes them tick’ and how to get them to effectively work together is critical.  The reality is that sales and marketing disciplines are very different –  Sales is focused on the ‘now’, whereas marketing is concerned with shaping the ‘to be’. And the leadership types for each group are equally different.  

Archetype is a useful technique to understand and describe different types of personalities based on their behavior.   Understanding someone’s archetype not only helps to explain their perspectives but also their motivations and drivers.   In the conundrum of sales and marketing alignment, understanding the archetype of both leaders is a critical first step in figuring out to get the two leaders to work better together.

Much has been written about different types of sales leaders and they can be summarized into the three archetypes:  Thinker, Blamer and Junkie.  Less has been written about marketing leader archetypes.  Based on my interviews and decades of experience I came up with three leadership archetypes:  Egoist, Strategist and Tactician.

The Egoist’s focus and core competence is branding and shaping mindshare.  Their belief is that the more a market knows about the company and its value proposition, the greater the interest in what the company has to offer.   A master storyteller, the Egoist has the unique capability to make the story relevant to just about anyone they meet.  Charismatic, well spoken, persuasive, and visionary, this marketing leader excels at communicating the vision orally and visually. 

As a leader, however, this archetype is often not detailed or process oriented. They delegate management of key marketing activities like demand generation, marketing operations, sales enablement, product marketing and management to subordinates.   In the right environment and with a strong team, an Egoist can motivate and galvanize a company to achieve significant things like shaping a new market category, launching a company or product, or being an industry thought leader.  Their lack of interest in the details of driving demand or enabling sales becomes a significant barrier in achieving sales and marketing alignment; often to the ire of sales leadership.

The Tactician is directly opposite of the Egoist.  This leader is adept at the detailed direction, implementation and control of plans to achieve specific milestones.  Every company needs a tactician for without one, or a team of them, marketing doesn’t get done.  The Tactician’s focus is primarily on building the ‘marketing engine’ and making sure that all the parts and programs are functioning optimally, in terms of speed and results.  With an innate ability to understand all the process steps, status and what the results are, the Tactician is able to spot and quickly correct a program or campaign that is not performing.

This archetype, however, lacks the ability to see the ‘bigger’ picture, spot new emerging trends and rapidly adjust the marketing strategy accordingly.  Tacticians can be so focused on perfecting their operations that they are unable to ‘think outside the box’.   Unlike the Egoist, the Tactician’s strength is not in evangelizing a new value proposition.  Marketing leaders that recognize their tactician tendencies achieve the right balance by retaining strategy consultants or hire these skills to help them identify new trends and threats and develop effective marketing strategies in response.   Tacticians are natural partners in sales and marketing alignment as it fits their desire to optimize processes and results.  That being said, with this archetype some sales leaders will co-opt marketing to provide the strategic direction that they feel is lacking in Marketing.

The third marketing archetype is the Strategist.  This leader effectively balances strategy with tactics.  They have a natural ability to look for and at the larger market to understand the dynamics at play and how the company can and does fit in.   They are adept at continually evaluating company and market strategy, aligning the two and then actualizing the strategy.   Operationalizing market strategy frequently involves other functional groups such as support, operations and sales.  The archetype’s view of marketing is distinctly different from that of the Egoist and the Tactician.  To them it is not about perfecting the external image of the company or internal programs; rather it is about influencing external market dynamics to position the company for unique opportunities and drive the company to capitalize on them.  Their perspective is holistic and decisions are often made in context of external dynamics, company competencies and longer term opportunities.

The Strategist archetype is representative of the new breed of CMOs that are being sought by B2B companies today.  To maintain their outside-in, strategic perspective, this archetype delegates program execution to cross functional teams and relies on metrics to manage the results; with the metrics often spanning a company’s demand chain.  A challenge of this archetype is maintaining their balanced view of the world.  Often, in response to company situations and culture, the Strategist becomes bogged down in tactics.  In situations where a sophisticated marketing team and processes are in place this archetype may evolve into an Egoist.  The Strategist is a strong proponent of sales and marketing alignment and often a catalyst of alignment.

Which are you?

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