How to build a high-performance marketing organization: lessons from Capital One Bank’s marketing leader, Peter Horst

Peter Horst SVP, Capital One Bank

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Peter Horst for years; he’s now Senior Vice President of Marketing at Capital One Bank, and I’ve always found him to be a smart and thoughtful marketing leader. So it was a pleasure to discuss his approach to starting his new role at the bank. Among the key steps he took in his first month was to publish what became known as “Peter’s Principles,” a summary of his beliefs about building and operating a high-performance marketing organization. His four tenets are simply stated but powerful if followed. Peter insists on:

  1. Clear Accountability: Be 100% aligned with the clients’ business goals and priorities; share the successes, yet have clear accountabilities; be transparent in your actions.
  2. Brilliant Execution: Always be on time, on budget, on strategy, on brand; be highly coordinated and totally aligned; set clear expectations and deliver on them consistently with efficient processes and rapid response.
  3. Bold Moves: Bring new and provocative thinking with a clear, strong point of view; continuously test bold hypotheses and make major impacts on the business.
  4. Seamless Collaboration: Act as one company, one team and one outcome; have each others’ backs; engage in candid dialogue and constructive yet respectful conflict; no drama, no intrigue, no in-fighting, none!

I was particularly struck by that last point. Creating a culture of “no drama, no intrigue and no in-fighting” is not easy, especially in large companies in challenging industries. It starts at the top by declaring a zero-tolerance policy and then reinforcing it with actions on a daily basis. Yet, in the end, it creates an environment that is not only more fun to work in, but one that performs better.

What are your operating principles for building a high-performance marketing organization? If you don’t have any, consider borrowing Peter’s. If you do have a set of principles, please share them with us.