What does it take for a person to become an effective executive? What distinguishes you as a leader from an ordinary manager? This question is at the top of my mind when I help executives to excel at their jobs or assess potential leaders for upper management positions.
Is a person’s leadership effectiveness is shaped by their personality style? Many people would say “yes” but the answer is “no”. Great leaders come from all personality types. Some are introverts while others are extroverts. There are those who are laid back and hands off and others who are more controlling. In the end, a person’s leadership greatness is not shaped by their personality style but, rather, by specific leadership competencies.
As I survey competencies from several organizations I have identified three that are aligned with success as an executive, the ability to: think strategically, lead change, and nurture relationships.
Great leaders can envision the future for their organization. They accurately read their environment (political, geographical, competitive) in which their business operates. This big picture, combined with knowledge of the core competencies and nature of their business, leads them to the formulation of an innovative strategy that answers the basic question “What is right for this enterprise now?” And this strategic skill always requires the leader to take a risk. In so doing they avoid the predicament as described by Shakespeare:
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
Question: “How can I be focused on the opportunities rather than the problems that will take my organization into the future?”
Not only do great leaders envision the future of their organization but they also drive the necessary change to realize that vision. To implement the necessary changes, leaders must demonstrate a compelling need for change, gain the buy-in of key stakeholders, and insure that there are early wins to sustain momentum. Leaders know the importance of communicating at every possible opportunity so that the vision is understood and embraced. They also know that the most effective message is one that has emotional impact in the form of a powerful metaphor or story.
Question: What changes need to take place for us to realize our vision?
An effective executive has developed a network of strong relationships. Part of the skill in developing such relationships and influencing others comes from the emotional and social Intelligence of the leader. By using that intelligence, a great leader builds a positive reservoir of trust that brings out the best in his/her people.
A key factor in building trust is putting the needs of the organization ahead of personal needs. This is communicated to others not only by what is said but by a leader’s disposition toward humility and servant leadership.
Question: How can I continually be responsive to the needs of the people in my organization?
Not every high potential employee will become the CEO of a company; however, there is still room in the executive suite for the top 5% of talented leaders. Will one of them be you?
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“So You Want to Be An Executive”(Part One) – Reasons Behind Your Choice and Common Myths Dispelled
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