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Marketing Academy Boot Camp – Unlocking leadership potential by Rachel Compton

What on earth could I expect from the Marketing Academy Boot Camp? After meeting the other 29 scholars at the Marketing Academy Gala at Diageo in May, I was still unsure as to what would face me.

Syl Saller, Diageo’s CMO, described the programme as ‘the best marketing leadership programme in the world’; my mother in law thought I was going to be shouted at military style whilst navigating an assault course; and I thought I was taking a few days out of the office to catch up on some work without being interrupted! Syl’s was of course the most accurate description and here is why:

On the first day of ‘Boot Camp’, Kevin Murray, Chairman of the Good Relations Group, spoke to us from the heart about his career from crime reporter to director of communications. Kevin shared excerpts from his book, the Language of Leaders, on how to communicate to inspire results.

From Kevin I learnt that as an authentic leader we should have a sense of purpose both personally and professionally, which is aligned by a strong moral compass. Kevin also taught us that by being fixated by our future vision we could achieve our current goals. Being a ‘bad news junkie’ and really listening to your team, peers, stakeholders and customers is the best way to stay connected and feel inspired.

I took so much from Kevin, but the final thought that I’ll share is the point he made about curiosity: ‘To stamp on your curiosity is to stamp on your soul.’ As a very nosy child I was delighted when I could class this trait as curiosity and use it everyday in my career!

Over and above all Kevin’s advice, the main thing that stayed with me was his honesty. Here was a man who wasn’t afraid to talk about the low points of his career and how he took responsibility for them. I left feeling truly inspired and ready for day two (following the odd glass of wine).

The second and third day of ‘Boot Camp’ was dedicated to the ‘Living Leader’ programme, designed by Penny Ferguson and delivered to my group of 10 by her daughter Emma.

The first thing that Emma clarified was that leadership is all about inspiring people to do things themselves. Having been truly inspired by Kevin, I felt much more confident about opening up to my group about my personal journey and dropping my ‘mask’. Having spent all my life craving control and editing vast parts of my history, it was refreshing to let go and open up to my group. This set the tone for the next two days and we created an open and trusted learning environment.

Here are the top three things I learnt from the leadership course:

1) As leaders we are responsible for what happens to us; we allow and educate people to treat us a certain way and we always have a choice.

2) Language is powerful, and words like ‘must do or should do’ are loaded and can create stressful environments. Open and incisive questions allow the individual to take ownership of the problem, and most importantly allow you as a leader to LISTEN LOUDLY.

3) Leadership is about attitude, not about routine. I seriously used to think it was about processes! Know your leadership style and your vision.

I know I’ve got a long way to go on my personal leadership journey, but if the first three days are anything to go by, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!

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The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

The Fellowship – Equips CMOs and Marketing Directors with the tools, knowledge and insight to make the move onto Boards and into General Management / MD / CEO roles.

12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience