TechManch 2019: Why does Thomas Barta think great marketers are great change leaders? 

Barta, author & Former Partner, McKinsey, spoke about the traits of marketing leadership in his keynote speech at TechManch 2019

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Jun 28, 2019 1:31 PM

Thomas Barta, author, Former Partner, McKinsey, delivered the keynote speech on Day 2 of the third edition of exchange4media’s TechManch. He spoke about the traits of marketing leadership and how the art and science of making change happen evolves in a digital-first, tech-led, data-driven age. 


Barta started his session with an example on how much time it takes to bring about a basic change at an organisation, relating his personal experience at McKinsey on changing the format of some infographics. He claimed it was a similar long procedure, no matter whether we are talking about a large media company, ad agency or any other kind of large organisation.   

Explaining how leaders have to, on a daily basis, deal with the skills gap, trust gap and power gap, Barta said, “A leader may think he needs to work harder to have more influence but in reality he needs to influence harder to have more success at work. Let me prove it to you. We have done the world’s largest study on customer leadership, we had 1,232 leaders from over 80 countries and 68,000 plus surveys. What explains business success – does it get affected by factors like whether you are working in a B2C or B2B business, gender, personality or technical skills? They contribute to very little in fact. The largest driver of success of marketers worldwide is leadership skills. The best people we looked at, in the business in our study, were not just great marketers, technical people, or good agency people; the best people knew how to make change happen and how to influence people. In other words, great marketers are great change leaders.”


Barta spoke about how a marketer can enlarge his value zone. “Firstly, one needs to side with the revenue camp. Adding what he has often seen portrayed as marketing priorities, he said: “We often hear of segmentation review and adding the millennial dimension, scaling up programmatic across all platforms, launching next phase of brand engagement programme and increasing emotional brand appeal, and virtual reality trial for U28 customers. But the point is if a marketer is showing such internal marketing lingos to his senior leaders, why would he be interested. A confident marketer wouldn’t be hiding behind such jargons as ‘segmentation’ or ‘programmatic’, instead he would be talking in plain language if he is really confident. Write how you would talk and that will be harder.”


About siding with the revenue camp, he says, “One must become his own influencer, perhaps put out a blog on what he thinks people will like to read on from his industry and most importantly unfollow the bin-fluencers. You can do that only by finding out the truths about your own industry. When you find out what the do’s of your own industry are, spread the word yourself and that will make you a true influencer. It is also important to mobilise your colleagues and walk the halls.” 


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