There’s an enduring notion that a CMO’s average tenure is 2-3 years. It’s an unfair expectation—leaders come into a situation that’s already in motion and are asked to quickly assess what’s happening, create a vision and strategy, and deliver results. That’s a tall order for a 2-3 year window.
Where does leadership tenure get its negative reputation—and causes things to not work out? It all comes down to misaligned expectations.
There are key inputs that must be clear and aligned on when a leader comes into a role—such as expectations from the CEO and board, job responsibilities, decision-making authority, resources available, and incentives. If any are misaligned, people will be disappointed and goals will be missed.
Another risk is inheriting a job with a strong legacy, such as ingrained processes or team structures. It’s common to accept these legacies at face value, but the best leaders will call them out when they hinder productivity—then proactively replace them. Making this process clear avoids misalignment and empowers leaders to drive results.