Kyle Flaherty’s father frequently voiced the old proverb, “A fish rots from the head down.” 

Nearly three decades into his marketing career, Flaherty hasn’t forgotten these words, but, these days, he views the sentiment through a different lens. 

“If you turn it around, it’s also saying the fish swims from the head. Teams look to their leaders as an example, and my goal is to always serve as a positive example,” said Flaherty. 

Now HUMAN’s chief marketing officer, Flaherty has become a head of the organization. And he’s determined to be a leader who stands the test of time. 

What this means in practice varies from day to day, depending on his team’s needs and tasks. One day, it may require rolling up his sleeves and figuring out a new content strategy or re-aligning the team. The next, it could be “empowering my team to say no to projects or scrap their old way of thinking.”

For Flaherty, a healthy culture is not the byproduct of the company values espoused in a Slack channel or transitory team activities. Instead, culture is modeled through everyday interactions with colleagues and an attentive, holistic approach to success. 

“Culture is about acting in a way that helps your team to succeed both as a group and as individuals,” he explained. 

 

“Culture is about acting in a way that helps your team to succeed both as a group and as individuals.”

 

Flaherty sat down with Built In to shed light on his leadership vision, the lessons he’s learned through experience and the exciting transformations in the marketing realm shaping his and his team’s trajectory. 

 

What’s your vision for leading your team?

HUMAN marketing is the guiding voice our customers hear that helps them build trust at each stop of their customer’s digital journey. If we are to be that trusted voice, we must also build a team with clarity of mission, psychological safety and candid critique. Those three pillars serve as my North Star when leading this team.

 

How do you help your team grow their careers? What tools and support do you offer to allow them to stretch their skills?

Years ago, I had an amazing mentor, Carol Meyers. Carol is the GOAT of B2B tech CMOs, and I was so lucky to learn from her and borrow some of her amazing ideas. One item she created was a skills matrix that was broken down by function, title and level. It’s essentially a map to show any person on a marketing team — from individual contributors to aspiring VPs — what they should have mastered before moving in one direction or another. 

This matrix is another example of what I talk about with “clarity of mission.” Every team member needs to know what it will take to succeed in their role today and the role they want to advance into. If you define that from the get-go and provide that roadmap, it makes growth attainable.

 

HUMAN team members pose for a group photo at a conference. 
HUMAN

 

What is something exciting that you are currently working on with your team?

B2B marketing has shifted dramatically, and the role of marketing specifically is completely being upended — which is so exciting. Our team is embarking on a project that will help evolve us into that new thinking, and it all starts with getting closer to the customer and the revenue. 

In many ways, this harkens back to my original days in marketing nearly 30 years ago. Over the past three decades, a silo cropped up where sales were revenue and customers, and marketing was inbound and demand. We know that’s not good enough, and marketing needs to be way more ‘market’ than ‘-ing.’

 

“Being part of the future of the internet and each of our journey’s on it is truly powerful and inspiring.”

 

What is the employee value proposition for those thinking about joining HUMAN? 

HUMAN stands sentry at every moment of every user’s digital journey, from marketing awareness through account creation and transaction. Being part of the future of the internet and each of our journey’s within it is truly powerful and inspiring.

 

 

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