Corporate Eye

Agile Executives Drive 25% Higher Profit Margins – Is Your CMO Agile?

agile executive mazeIs your Chief Marketing Officer (or Chief Brand Officer – or whatever title you use to refer to the executive who is responsible for your company’s brands) agile? If your CMO isn’t agile, you’re losing money.

That’s according to a new research report, The Agile Enterprise, from Korn Ferry, a leadership and talent consulting firm. According to the firm’s research, companies with highly agile executives have 25% higher profit margins compared with their peer companies.

That 25% is not a figure that should be ignored! However, the research found that agility isn’t one size fits all. Depending on the executive’s industry, the company’s micro- and macro-environment, and the company’s goals, the executive’s agility might have to be stronger in one area than another.

Specifically, Korn Ferry measured five areas of agility: self-awareness, mental, people, change, and results. An executive who is leading a company through new product and brand launches needs to be particularly strong in mental agility. They need to be innovators who can seize new ideas and opportunities. An executive who is working through developing a new brand architecture following a merger or acquisition needs to have strong people agility to bring disparate teams together and make the new brand architecture work.

Given the fast-changing business world, agility is a requirement today, and company’s that can’t get out of their own way eventually pay the price. Remember, business is cyclical. Companies merge and grow bigger and bigger until finally, they break apart again. Having an agile CMO is critical to brand growth, but unless the company culture prioritizes agility, even the most agile CMO will achieve limited success.

In other words, hiring agile executives comes second. First, companies need to commit to developing the processes and systems that will enable all employees, including executives, to be agile. It ties back to lean operations strategies where decisions are made for the customer and those decisions are pushed down to the lowest possible level. Employees are empowered to make the right decisions for the customer on a daily basis, and they have the flexibility to do so.

Remember, an agile person or an agile work style won’t help a company or brand if that agile person can’t truly act in an agile way on a daily basis. If the barriers to agility aren’t removed, even the most agile person will be stopped in their tracks. The companies that understand this will reap the rewards.

Image: Steven Goodwin

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.