The tricky waters at c-level: Lack of c-suite alignment causes companies and careers to flounder

Anne Field

Key insights

  • The increase in CMO tenure shows growing importance of the marketing function.
  • CMOs must learn the point of view and language of other business functions.
  • Organizations with strong CMO/C-suite relationships consistently outperform in revenue, margin growth, and innovation.
  • Collaboration can depend on basic, simple things like joint planning sessions for all top executives.

It might have been funny — if the snafu hadn't involved millions of dollars.

Recently, the CMO of a major pharmaceutical company got his CEO's blessing to spend $5 million on a major brand campaign promoting a suite of products at a national health-care conference. So he was quite surprised to later learn that his boss had given a similar go-ahead to his sales counterpart, allotting another $5 million "to make a splash at a different meeting that usually attracted a lot of doctors," says Angela O'Donnell, co-founder of 3D Leadership Group, a Wellesley, Mass., executive coaching firm.