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The Best Marketing Leaders Are Those With Learning Agility

Most companies (67%) continue to base promotional decisions on traditional criteria -- employees with strong results and leadership capabilities.

However, it is possible that another criteria should be added, especially for marketing leaders.

Caren Fleit, Senior Client Partner and leader of the Marketing Center of Expertise at Korn Ferry, argues Learning Agility is perhaps the most important criteria in the promotion process.

“Learning Agility” is the willingness and ability to learn from experience and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations* – and according to research by Korn/Ferry it’s a rare skill -- only 15% of the workforce possess this attribute. 

Fleit also believes Learning Agility is more accurate than IQ, EQ, and other well known measures such as education level and leadership competencies.  

The good news: the research indicates that CMOs disproportionately possess this attribute compared to their senior executive peers.

The bad news: Companies cannot afford to have CMOs who lack the ability to be learning agile.

The CMO role continues to change rapidly; their influence base is expanding and the ways companies engage with customers is continuously evolving. 

Increasingly, CMOs are tasked with driving transformation agendas that drive measurable business results.

In practice, a learning agile leader is one that:

  • Continuously seeks new challenges
  • Solicits direct feedback
  • Is self-reflective
  • Gets jobs done resourcefully
  • Sees unique patterns and makes fresh connections that others overlook.

Given the subjective nature of learning agility, it is inherently harder to assess, so Korn/Ferry created a psychometric based tool in order to measure this attribute. Caren Fleit asserts that ignoring this attribute when hiring or promoting CMOs is to a company’s detriment. 


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