It seems these days that all the rage is to be a “T-Shaped” marketer.  The idea being that you should be deep in one skill, and wide in your knowledge.  I think that’s solid, but kinda rudimentary advice.  And, at the end of the day, if it isn’t flawed, it is over-simplified.

In a previous post, I introduced the Go To Market Skills Mastery model, shown again here:

Most marketers, especially early in their career fall firmly into one of the 8 segments.  Or manage a team in one or two adjacent ones.  For example, a Director of Corporate Marketing  may have responsibility for Events, PR, Brand and Content and Social, while a Director of Demand Generation maybe handles Growth Marketing and Lead Generation. Adjacent spaces flow well together.

The idea of T-Shaped, means to get VERY deep in one area and be good in a bunch of others.  Sounds good, but what’s wrong with that?  Three things:

  1. While excellence in one area is good, if you aspire to true leadership, you need to be very good in a few things, not just one
  2. Picking your second, third and even fourth area of expertise is critical to your success
  3. The advice to be T-Shaped is generic and now specific

To grow your leadership you must become arrow forged, not T-Shaped.  What’s the difference?

  • First, the arrow-forged leader is not only a single domain expert, but they are cross domain expert with the skill 180 degrees across their tip. For example, the Lead generation expert should develop their expertise in messaging and positioning.  After all, the best Lead Gen strategy in the world fails without the right message.
  • Second, the arrow-forged leader develops skills in the two adjacent slides of the model.  Our Lead Generation expert develops not only the cross-skill of Messaging, but the adjacent skills of Growth and Sales and Marketing Automation. By building their skills across and to the sides they position them-selves in all 3 of the 4 quadrants of the model, in a set of highly related skills.
  • Third, arrow-forged leaders not only acquire skills, the seek out challenges to forge those skills into impact and results. Skills without real-world practice and flimsy and fleeting.  Leaders don’t just shape their skills arrow, they forge it in battle.

Arrow-forged leaders consciously build their skills and expertise for maximum organization impact and career growth. So stop messing around with Ts and start forging your leadership arrow today!

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