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The secrets of high-performing marketing leaders

Caeleigh MacNeil contributor headshotCaeleigh MacNeil
January 3rd, 2024
2 min read
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The marketing landscape is always changing, and leaders need to stay sharp or they risk falling behind. Performance is paramount, especially as CMOs navigate new AI tools and face increasing pressure to achieve results with fewer resources. Now more than ever, marketing leaders need to make smart decisions—fast. 

So, how can leaders perform well in such a demanding environment? The Work Innovation Lab partnered with Greg Wells, Ph.D., to answer just that question. The Lab ran a study to decode the formula of high-performing leadership. The key takeaway? It’s not about working harder—it’s about working smarter, grounded in science and amplified by AI.

What is The Work Innovation Lab?

The Work Innovation Lab is a think tank by Asana that develops human-centered, cutting-edge research to help businesses evolve today to meet the growing changes and challenges of work.

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The best performance strategies for marketing leaders, according to research

To get data-backed answers, The Work Innovation Lab and Dr. Wells surveyed 6,000 high-performing executives and leaders from the world’s top companies, including Deloitte, Royal Bank of Canada, and Bank of Montreal. Here are the three most surprising findings:

1.  Focus on one task at a time

The research revealed a strong link between leaders who could effectively concentrate on a single task and those who met or exceeded their performance expectations. Instead of trying to multitask, these leaders guarded their attention fiercely against distractions and context-switching. 

Focus is especially important for marketing leaders, who need to absorb and synthesize information about market trends, competitor campaigns, team budgets, and more. To digest all of that information effectively, leaders should hone their focus with strategies like: 

  • Blocking off time to complete a single task. 

  • Using cognitive training exercises to reduce the urge to multitask. 

  • Turning off device notifications during meetings. 

  • Delegating routine tasks to AI to free up brainspace for more important work. 

2. Structure your work methodically

Effective leaders create clear structures, routines, and processes to control  their work environment. According to The Work Innovation Lab’s research, feeling in control can help combat negative emotions like stress, exhaustion, and irritability. That’s why structure is so important. It helps leaders control what they can and prepares them to handle the unexpected. 

For example, effective marketing leaders set clear, revenue-driving goals. These goals provide a vision for success and a roadmap to achieve it, so they can steer their teams in the right direction even if the market environment changes. 

3. Prioritize mental fitness

To be an effective leader, you need to take care of yourself first. The research shows that leaders who focus on mental well-being are better positioned to meet or exceed performance expectations. That’s because prioritizing mental health creates a positive feedback loop: improved mental health enhances the ability to focus, and heightened focus, in turn, continues to bolster mental health.

In a challenging field like marketing, it’s especially important for leaders to take care of their mental health. That way they’re better prepared to tackle changing market environments, tight budgets, and pressure from leadership—without letting stress and burnout impact  performance. 

Strategies to bolster mental fitness include:

  • Regular mindfulness meditation to help your brain transition between focus and creativity. 

  • Exercise, which can spark new neuron growth and enhance memory and learning. 

  • Cold exposure—like 30 seconds of cold water at the end of your morning shower—to boost stress-busting beta-endorphins in your blood.

  • Prioritizing quality sleep, which boosts collaboration according to research from The Work Innovation Lab.

Get the full report

Becoming a high-performing leader isn’t shrouded in mystery. It's a science, underpinned by research and data. For more data-backed performance strategies, read the full report: The Science of High-Performing Leadership: Unleashing Your Potential in the AI Era.

The science of high-performing leadership: Unleashing your potential in the AI era

Learn strategies that can turn anyone into a high-performing leader, based on a survey of 6,000 executives and leaders from the world's top companies.

Get the insights
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