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How to Ensure a CMO Hire Will Be a Good Fit For the C-Suite

Psychometric assessments are key to assembling executive teams that mesh


Ad Age | March 22, 2021



The Ad Age article, "How to Ensure a CMO Hire Will Be a Good Fit For the C-Suite​," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Stacey Shapiro and Norm Yustin​, and discusses our Leadership Span framework. The article is excerpted below.

The ability to blend such pragmatism with the softer, more creative side of the job is a critical skill for CMOs these days, as CEOs put more pressure on their marketing departments to show results. But often, these expectations are not set during the hiring process, resulting in marketing leaders who are not a fit for the CEOs they serve, contributing to the notoriously short average tenure among CMOs.

Executive search firms are tackling these shortfalls by turning to new tools that help companies find the right match and assemble cohesive C-suites. Finding the right candidate is increasingly about ensuring a cultural fit and knowing that someone has the ability to continue to learn and grow as the job demands. To that end, recruiters and companies are employing new methods that go beyond the traditional recruitment processes often focused on past performance. The new tools, which focus on psychometric assessments, provide companies with a detailed analysis of someone’s potential beyond what their résumé and interviews show before they extend an offer for the high-profile job.
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Russell Reynolds Associates partnered with Hogan Assessments, known for its personality assessments, in 2017 to create Leadership Span. The add-on assessment to the traditional recruiting process uncovers layers of detail and nuance to help differentiate between finalist candidates and provide insight regarding fit for a role, culture and organization. If there are two strong candidates for a CMO role, for example, a company may assess each of them to understand their strengths and gaps, relative to best-in-class leadership profiles, and how they align with the organization’s specific needs.

Extra layer of assessment

“We believe that extra layer of assessment gives you more comfort that this person is going to match,” says Norm Yustin, managing director, Russell Reynolds. Even if the firm doesn’t do a statistical assessment, candidates are asked softer versions of the questions during the recruiting process. It could include a query such as, “Tell me about a time you really stepped out and took a risk,” which can provide an idea about a person’s leadership capabilities, says Yustin.
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Standout CMOs are also expected to be disruptors who can bring the disparate parts of an organization together to drive change. After all, they can’t pull off big campaigns without the financial backing of the CFO or suggest which items to promote without the supply chain being on board.

“Their ability to play well in the sandbox is increasingly important,” says Stacey Shapiro, executive director at Russell Reynolds, who holds a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology. 

The typical CMO is less pragmatic and more willing to take risks than their C-suite peers, Russell Reynolds has found. They are also more galvanizing. But despite being collaborators, CMOs might not connect well with their executive peers. “They’re pushing for more change ... than their C-suite peers may want, so that may create friction,” Shapiro says.
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CMOs who excel often have varied backgrounds in areas such as management and sales, may have worked at both small and large companies, and have been exposed to various leadership styles, Russell Reynolds research suggests.

Teamwork and tenure

Scoring CMO candidates on their ability to mesh inside the C-suite is particularly important considering that many marketing leaders are hired from outside the company and therefore have less familiarity with their C-suite peers. Russell Reynolds finds only one out of every five CMOs gets promoted internally, says Yustin.
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“The reason CMOs get fired is the same reason they get hired,” Yustin says.

Find the full article here.



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How to Ensure a CMO Hire Will Be a Good Fit For the C-Suite