Read This Before Hiring a VP of Anything

Read This Before Hiring a VP of Anything

This is the third article in a series of articles on why every company is a media company today and what that means for organizations.

Today, every company is a media company. A media company requires a new set of skills from its directors and VPs. While domain expertise is critical, it's not enough. The most effective leaders and executives in the media economy must have at least one media-related superpower.

Look for Content Creators

What is a media-related superpower? Well, the successful VPs are strong writers who regularly publish articles or blog posts. Or they are prolific speakers who present at industry conferences. Or they host a podcast, or acquired an active following on social media, or create a following by publishing video content. It doesn't mean that your VP should be a writer or talk show host or a YouTuber. But your VP or director should regularly communicate and share their expertise with your company’s target audience. This not only enhances your corporate brand, it also attracts top talent to your company.

The most talented employees look up to the leaders in their field. Inspired and motivated marketers follow celebrity CMOs. Young sales reps follow top sales leaders for inspiration and guidance. Genius engineers want to work on hard problems with crazy problem-solvers like themselves. Many VPs create content because they intuitively understand the importance of a personal brand and how it intersects with their company’s brand.

Marketing, branding, public relations, hiring, and almost everything else becomes so much easier at an organization where every leader understands the importance of personal a brand and regular content creation.

This doesn’t apply only to your VP of marketing, VP of sales, and VP of customer success. As strange as it sounds, your VP of engineering, VP of human resources, and VP of product should create content on a regular basis.

Personal and Corporate Brand Are Intertwined

Naturally, two questions arise. First, what should VPs write about? And second, how do VPs find time to write?

It doesn't mean that your VP of engineering should produce marketing-like, industry content. Yet, they can create content in their domain of expertise that showcase how their function in organization operates, how they make decisions, and what processes they follow.

For example, if your company operates in healthcare industry, your VP of engineering shouldn’t necessarily write about healthcare. Instead, they can share how they are solving interesting engineering challenges. They can explain how they organize their day and how they prioritize resources. The VP of engineering can show how they structure their teams and what skills they are looking for during the hiring process.

Busy VPs can carve out time to write an article or create a short video by documenting their work. A VP who regularly keeps notes and documents their work is better equipped to produce content. Scheduling just one or two hours per week to write a reflection on the previous week helps VPs both create content and improve their job performance.

For example, Jeff Bezos requires his lieutenants to write a six-page memo for every senior executive meeting. As they write their memos, these executives are forced to figure out how to express ideas, questions, and issues with reasoning and logic. The writing process allows them to better articulate and understand issues better. As Steven Sinofsky pointed out in his “writing is thinking” Twitter thread:

“The act of writing, forces the author to think through all the details and steps required to share the lesson. It avoids what happens in business all the time which is “I just know” or “experience” and brings along the team and other job functions on thinking.”

Why Your VPs Must Create Content

This is why it’s beneficial to hire VPs who actively create content. Because these execs already document their work regularly, it’s easier to transform into powerful public-facing content. Additionally, VPs who document their work build a valuable base of knowledge that undoubtedly improves collaboration, employee onboarding, and the overall effectiveness of your organization.

These skills are hard to teach at the VP level. So before you hire your next VP of anything, find out whether they have a media-related superpower. Do they have an active blog? Do they publish content regularly? Do they host a podcast or create videos? VPs with such superpowers will:

  • Enhance your corporate brand
  • Attract talent
  • Improve management skills
  • Build a valuable repository of internal knowledge

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