Career Development

Leading a Marketing Team: Guidelines from Great Managers

March 29, 2024
— By
Jamie James
Leadership & Great Managers

Let’s be real: Being a high-performing individual contributor doesn’t automatically equate to being a fantastic manager. Team management takes an entirely different (additional) set of skills, including a considerable amount of:

  • organization
  • understanding team dynamics
  • emotional intelligence

As a manager, you directly impact the individuals you manage, the collective department you contribute to, AND the company culture. No pressure, but this is a big job.

These insights are guidelines from great managers within the MKTG WMN community. They apply whether you’ve just been promoted into management (congrats!) or you’re an OG manager with room for improvement.


This isn’t an exhaustive list.

This information is intended to challenge and inspire your thinking around this topic and invoke reflection/comments/additions/conversations about what it takes to be a great manager.

Leading a Team Requires Strong Organizational Skills

Example: Working Together Guide

One way to get uber-organized as a manager is to establish expectations on how you operate as a team and work with your direct reports. We curated a Working Together resource for our members so they feel empowered and confident leading a team.

Click the Working Together Link above to duplicate this template and fill in your own details

Encourage your direct reports to create a guide of their own!

A Working Guide can include:

  • Online hours
  • Meeting Cadences
  • Meeting Formats 1x1s versus team meetings
  • Working Style/Preferences
  • Communication Preferences
  • Define Role Support: How you expect a direct report to support you and how you/they envision supporting them

It takes just a few minutes to create, sets the tone for basic but critical expectations, like getting and giving support, meeting times and cadences, feedback loops, and overall communication. We first learned about it in this post, and have had success implementing it since!

Being honest and up front about these basics creates rapport, establishes trust, and prevents icky micromanagement.

Direct reports relax and become more confident knowing they’re not expected to be available 24/7, that you trust them (and will give them the breathing room) to accomplish their workload according to deadlines, and that consequences only come when this trust/rapport is breached.

Keep in Mind

As a manager, you won’t be able to meet every individual’s needs and preferences all of the time. But creating a version of this document and having your team do the same is a step in the right direction in creating a culture where employees feel seen, heard, respected, accommodated, safe, and ultimately, happier at work.

Understanding Team Dynamics

Set & Define Expectations Early, Revisit as Needed

There’s no one-size-fits all approach to managing a team. Still, the best leaders all seem to understand the same core concepts when it comes to managing their direct reports:

  • defining/accommodating working styles/needs is liberating
  • trust and rapport is imperative
  • continued education/upskilling is key

Seek to understand how your direct employees work

Lean Into the Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses - Including Your Own

A little humility goes a long way. Just because you’re a manager or lead a team, doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly become invincible - or perfect. Great managers know that more responsibility requires a deeper level of humility. Because when the time comes, it’s ultimately on you to:    

  • take accountability for your team’s successes AND failures
  • put direct reports in better positions to succeed
  • roll up your sleeves and help the team get the job done, no matter how senior you are

Example: Teal’s Work-Specific Assessment  

MKTG WMN member, Lia Zneimer and her direct report both took the Teal work assessment. They share their thoughts on its accuracy and how how it benefited their working relationship from day one in this post.

Knowing and understanding your team’s strengths and areas for improvement are growth and development opportunities.

For example, Lia learned her new direct report has a natural tendency to start tasks rather than finishing them. This insight would help any manager know when to jump in on projects and even which types of projects to assign. It’s like loving someone in their professional love language!

Better understanding the type of support direct reports need, including how they prefer to receive that support, creates a better working relationship and fosters professional growth for you and your direct reports.

Keep in Mind

As a manager, understanding your direct reports more deeply, specifically from a working perspective, their strengths, and areas for improvement - as well as your own - deeply impact team dynamics.

Emotional Intelligence

What’s Your EQ?

Emotional intelligence is a quality and skill that every leader must have. Identifying and managing one's own emotions and the ability to consider others’ emotions will inevitably lead to:

  • Stronger team and cross-functional collaboration
  • Reduction in stress and burnout
  • Effective conflict resolution

For some, emotional intelligence comes naturally. For others, it might take some development and refining, and that’s okay. Continued education and professional growth distinguish good leaders from great leaders, every time.

For example, it takes a considerable amount of emotional intelligence to lead a team as a collaborative effort as opposed to a seniority divide. Doing so results in direct reports feeling seen, heard, supported and ultimately, understood. An inspired and motivated team will inevitably be more productive and successful. Emotional intelligence is a win for managers, director reports, company culture, and contributes to the success of the business.  

Example: Consider a Career & Leadership Coach

An executive or career leadership coach can help leaders gain more insight into their (and their team’s) emotional responses. This work helps managers become more thoughtful in their decision-making and problem-solving skills in ways that click for the entire team.  

Working with a coach also provides the added benefit of learning how to coach simply by going through the process. Here’s a perspective from MKTG WMN’s coach-in-residence, Liza Dube’s article How To Coach As A Leader:

Keep in Mind

Not sure if you need or are ready to commit to a career leadership coach? No worries, MKTG WMN has you covered. Our coach-in-residence regularly shares resources on professional development, influencing in the workplace, better management, and




When you're ready, join the club

We’d love to have you in our community. We're on a mission to impact more women in marketing. Our goal is to help women get paid what they deserve, land their dream jobs, get promotions, upskill, and professionally develop to their full potential.

We aim to do this through a higher frequency of events, templates, expert advisors, cohorts, access to big-time CMOs/leaders, coaching, mentorship, benchmarking, and other resources.

As a MKTG WMN member, you get full access to the plethora of these resources. Our community is a space to network and discuss job opportunities, salary benchmarking and negotiations, and general-to-use-case marketing advice, among other topics!