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Attitude is Key to Success

Mike Dickson

June 27, 2024

Communication, collaboration and resilience. These were seen as the most important personality traits for CMOs and other senior leaders, according to recent research from Deloitte.

And these traits all involve having the right attitude. Yes, they can be described as mostly soft skills. But they are all vital to success and trounce simply the ability to do the job.

‘The skills that got marketers near the top are not those that will take them to the top’ is a key conclusion from Deloitte.

The origin of the phrase ‘Hire for attitude. Develop skills’ has been attributed to Sherry Phelps of Southwest Airlines. It’s been used repeatedly by many others since. And it certainly led to Southwest’s well-documented success story, due in large part to their employees having a ‘Warrior Spirit’. As a challenger brand, they constantly had to fight off the larger airlines and then the low-cost airlines that tried to emulate them.

So their leaders and other employees all had to have the right attitude (by being resilient in this example) to constantly fight those battles. And Southwest always evaluated their talent based on their employees having such an attitude rather than evaluating them simply on their ability to do the job. Skills can always be taught. Whereas attitudes are mainly inherent and are therefore more difficult to shift.

Of course, attitude in this instance must be seen as being positive. But the word itself can be used negatively particularly in the US, when it’s applied to truculent, uncooperative behaviour as in “I asked the waiter for a clean fork and all I got was attitude’’.

A positive way to describe attitude is ‘the way a person views and evaluates something or someone and then responds positively to ideas, objects, people or situations’.

This is exactly how marketers want customers to respond to their brands. And, coincidentally that involves the three words set out at the start of this article.

Communication is about inspiring customers with your offer.

Collaboration is about understanding customer needs and having a dialogue with them.

Resilience is about maintaining consistency and always being true to what the brand stands for.

So, if leaders on the inside of the organisation have the right attitude to live up to those three words, customers will sense that and success will surely follow. Not just for them, as leaders, but in terms of generating a positive customer experience as well.