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3 Key Traits Go to Market Leaders Must Have

This Week's Buzz


Hi All! This week’s topic is Team Excellence and Leadership. For CEOs and COOs hiring their go-to-market leadership team is key to their company’s success. In today’s issue, I discuss some of the traits I see in GTM leaders that excel. My analysis is based upon my over 1000 interviews of go-to-market leaders across a myriad of sectors. I consistently see 3 traits that deliver this leadership excellence.

What are your thoughts on what traits make great GTM leaders? Share your feedback on The Buzz Community.

And, of course, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for being part of the Buzz community. This endeavor is not possible with you -- our readers. For questions, comments, and feedback, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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3 Key Traits GTM Leaders Must Have

For CEOs finding the right leadership team to drive several of the most important functions of a business can be daunting. In working with over 100+ leadership teams over the years, I’ve seen a consistent pattern of traits that lead to an exceptional group of leaders that drive growth, revenue, and customer satisfaction. That is the GTM leadership team.

There are tons of leadership and management books, webinars, etc. that can educate you on what are excellent leadership traits. This is not that discussion. This discussion is to focus specifically on what are the commonalities across thousands of 1-on-1 interviews I’ve done with go-to-market leaders that excel.

For context, I typically start an engagement with a new client, I interview each executive in a guided discussion to uncover their perspective on the market, the firm’s place in the market, what’s working, and what’s not, and to see the alignment among the leadership team. These commonalities are generated from those 1000+ interviews.

Trait #1: Empathy

Empathy is the main trait I see in exceptional B2B go-to-market leaders. They demonstrate this with customers, team members, and fellow go-to-market leaders in their day-to-day activities. Empathy helps them in multiple ways as leaders of course. But specifically for GTM, it enables them to see the world through the eyes of the customer. This makes them powerful advocates for customer-centric approaches to how we plan, deliver, and implement go-to-market motions. This is truly an exceptional superpower and a must have for GTM leadership.

While we all understand the tactical benefits of empathy in storytelling, creative design, etc.. The key value it delivers for great GTM leaders is great communication. Not just being able to tell a story. That’s a natch at a certain level, but being able to mold a story based on the audience to which they are speaking. It creates inherent alignment between them and their audience, which in turn leads to improved receptivity of a new idea. This is powerful in the world of GTM since our business is truly about persuasion.

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Trait #2: Curiosity

Exceptional GTM leaders are always curious. They always seeking to learn. Many of us reading this newsletter are curious at heart. This is particularly important for GTM leaders, as the market is constantly changing and we must be on top of key relevant trends. But curiosity also goes to a deeper desire to understand what’s working and how something works. This enables GTM leaders to always discover new ways to achieve success.

Additionally, curiosity as a trait enables exceptional GTM leaders to be willing to experiment and test new ideas. This is critical for go-to-market excellence, as experimentation is the way we test to get better and smarter at growth. Willing to experiment has a second layer of leadership is one to let their team try new ideas. Too many executive-level GTM leaders are overly risk-averse. While it makes them good. It doesn’t make them great leaders.

Trait #3: Optimism

Optimism is one of the overlooked traits for leadership excellence. But this is important for go-to-market leaders in particular since we need to embody the enthusiasm to lead. We are the cheerleading team at the executive level to drive initiatives, programs, and vision forward. When working with CEOs on helping them form or hire B2B CMOs, I look at Optimism as a key trait to evaluate success. It will help the C-suite when times are tough for their team cohesion.

However, the more important element of optimism that is important for B2B GTM leaders is the willingness to improve. Not only improve what they are doing but how they are doing it. There are several past executives that I’ve worked with who are really good at this. My former colleague at Microsoft, Randy Wootton (now CEO of Maxio) is one. He writes about his experiences about leadership here. But also mentions the Pathwise Leadership Program, that MSFT executives go through to drive people-first leadership concepts into actionable management tools. For Randy and me, it was one of the most important programs in executive education over the years.

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More than 1000 1-on-1 interviews with client leadership teams over the years have led me to really understand leadership excellence. These three traits really stick out as consistently winning GTM teams.

What are your thoughts on what traits make great GTM leaders? Share your feedback on The Buzz Community.


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