The most successful CEOs are 'winging it on a daily basis'

The rapid change of digitisation has left many senior management folks and marketers potentially clueless as to what the next step should be, Tom Van den Berckt (pictured), head of digital marketing and web, Maxis, said. He was speaking at A+M’s recent NEXT Malaysia conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“Senior management knows the importance of digital. But as it is changing so rapidly, they also have no idea what to do,” Van den Berckt said. The old way of marketing is probably going to disappear and most senior management folks have “no idea what's going to replace it, and that's what they are afraid of and that's the fear”, he adds.

As such, a lack of bold leadership leaves many organisations fearing change and failure.  Nonetheless, there are CEOs who are in fact, bravely “winging it on a daily basis” in the face of change.

“They have to make big and important decisions on where the company is headed as every industry changes. The most senior CEOs I have met in my career are winging it on a daily basis,” he said.

Van den Berckt added the reason why digitisation within the organisation is not moving at a faster pace is also due to the fact that employees are neither inspired nor feel empowered to strive for change.

Employees will follow leaders if they are confident that the management trusts them and has their backs – even if mistakes are made.

“As such, if you want the right people to remain in the company and keep them inspired, you need to trust them and give them the permission to carry out tasks. The best people will work for you because of the culture, not the money. They want to create something great. And if something goes wrong, you need to cover the bases for your team and accept responsibility,” Van den Berckt said.

Making your company future-ready

The first step, as many of us are aware of, would be to break down silos. This is not just in the marketing team but the entire organisation.  Currently, organisational structures are still hierarchical. Moving forward, the work processes will need to change as companies will eventually have to do things differently in future.

He added:

If there is no internal drive to break down silos, very little will happen.

An example of this is when a marketing team has innovative ideas for a website, but faces difficulty implementing them because the website is managed by the IT department. Unfortunately, due to the different set of targets set by the management for each team, there might be a lack of incentive for the IT department to come to the aid of the marketing team.

If silos were to be removed in a situation such as this, and both teams had a unified goal to work towards, chances are, there would be more room for collaboration and communication.

And while it is easy for many marketers to throw in the towel and claim the necessary tools are not in place to garner success, Van den Berckt stressed that it is not the tool that matters, but what companies do with it.

“It isn’t just latest gadgets such as content management systems, live chat and digital analytics tools that will make or break your success. In fact, there are many companies with the right tools might not even know how to use them,” he said, adding:

If you find yourself saying: ‘If only we had this tool, we could do amazing things’, you are wrong.

“If you are really motivated to get the results you want, you will find a way of completing a task with the limited amount of resources you have,” he said. Once companies have the habit of executing tasks with the resources currently in hand, only then will the marketing tools be useful.

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