Inclusive marketing leaders collaborate on a campaign

Inclusive Leadership: The Foundation of High-Performing Marketing Teams

Articles Jun 22, 2024

Being a marketing leader has never been more challenging. Teams are being flooded with data and new technologies like AI are being met with fear and excitement. Prospects and customers are being inundated with hundreds of marketing messages daily, yet few make any impact. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are being asked to build teams that include marketing communications professionals along with data scientists, data engineers, and user experience experts. And, these team members expect to have flexibility around when and where they work. 

Marketing leaders who rise to these challenges are the strategists and business operators who can configure their teams to understand their customers while fostering collaborations that deliver results. Enter a new type of role—the inclusive marketing leader.

Inclusive leaders assemble and sustain high-performing teams that create powerful messages that connect with target audiences while generating demand. Effective leaders value the presence and participation of a diverse creative team to understand multiple customer segments. For example, a creative team with a member who shares a customer’s ethnicity is 152% more likely than another team to understand that customer’s needs.

Inclusive leaders hire for culture add, rather than culture fit, and they are savvy enough to recognize when they need additional guidance. When inclusive marketers lack information about specific target audiences, they work with partners outside their organization to craft messages that are appropriate and authentic.

The creation of powerful marketing campaigns requires an innovation culture that balances marketing insights with teamwork. Culture is the biggest driver of employee engagement and worker productivity, and by definition, inclusive leaders establish healthy, trust-based workplace cultures to foster creativity. High-performing teams, guided by inclusive leaders, elevate diverse perspectives, which drive innovation, efficiency, and quicker, better decision-making.

“Being an inclusive leader isn’t just about your personal journey; it’s about fostering an environment where everyone’s experiences are valued,” says Edessa Polzin, the Manager of Learning Partnerships at the American Marketing Association (AMA). 

Business team discussing some papers on the floor in the office

Here are six tips to become an inclusive marketing leader who builds high-performing teams.


Kurt Merriweather

Kurt Merriweather (he/him) is a Certified Diversity Executive, vice president of Innovation for The Diversity Movement, and thought leader in building teams that integrate DEI and technology.