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Perspectives

John Hancock CMO Barbara Goose’s lessons on leadership

Even the most accomplished, talented, and well-liked CMOs can’t move mountains on their own. Barbara Goose, CMO of John Hancock, shares what she has learned when it comes to leading a high-performing marketing organization.

How do you develop and foster top talent?

Goose: I used to hire for skills. Today, I hire for skills and attitude. I look for people who are willing to take risks and to jump in and solve problems. Our team has very few people who focus on one narrow slice of the world, so I need team members who can adapt to different situations very quickly. Plus, I look for people who can influence others. While it’s important to have the ability to work with digital technologies and understand data and insights, it’s equally important to be able to package all of that into a story and educate the organization on what it all means.

What are your guiding leadership principles?

Goose: Within our marketing organization, I stay as connected as I can to as many people as possible. I try to build in time to walk around and visit with the team informally. It’s important to be accessible and not hidden away in an office. We have monthly team meetings that provide an opportunity for people to connect, discuss what they’re doing, and share goals. While I might know everyone’s job, the rest of the team may not, so sharing progress across the entire organization has been helpful.

I believe strongly in recognition. People want to know when they’ve done a great job, so I highlight that individually—with a handwritten note, for example—and more publicly at our monthly meetings. We try to reward people who have stepped out of their comfort zone or worked with other stakeholders to solve problems. And I certainly believe in fun—celebrating births, weddings, and other important life events—and in getting out of the office together.

Last, I work hard to create a flat environment. If someone asks me for an org chart, what I’d rather hand out is the seating chart: Here’s where you’ll find everyone, and here’s what they’re working on. I want to foster a culture where anyone can ask questions of anyone else, regardless of their titles. I believe if you’re happy and feel valued, you’re going to do your best work. My job is to enable that.

Related Content:How John Hancock’s CMO Drives a Customer-First Focus

Barbara Goose
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