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Are CEOs to Blame for Short CMO Tenures?
Ty Montague / Harvard Business Review / July 24, 2013
About once a week it seems, we are reminded that CMO tenure is unusually short. I have heard figures ranging from 23 months to 45 months. Both of these numbers are astonishingly low compared to other execs in the C-Suite: eight years for CEOs and ten years for CFOs. So why is CMO tenure so short? Experts have pointed to a host of reasons: the explosion of social media, the rise of big data, general complexity and chaos, incompetence…
But what I haven’t seen is a serious discussion of the person directly responsible for the length of employment of the CMO: the CEO.
As I argue in my new book, the best-run and most successful companies convey one clear, understandable story through every action that they take, not solely through their marketing. And these companies tell their story through the products that they make, the services they provide, even in the way they incentivize and reward employees. And the only person who can manage this story is the CEO.
Yet the majority of CEOs pass this responsibility to others — the CMO, usually. This needs to change, and shareholders and other stakeholders need to start holding CEOs’ feet to the fire. Because there is a growing evidence that the most successful businesses today are run by CEOs who embrace story, and who think of themselves as Chief Story Officers.