Aspiring and Emerging Leaders
Let’s get one thing straight –transforming yourself to senior leadership is NOT about what you know or who you know.
Now, don’t get me wrong – those things are important, particularly in the early stages of a person’s career. In fact, I remember looking for opportunities to prove I was a good leader and read every how-to success book.
I “acted as-if,” wore the boxy power suits and donned glasses to look the part. I hung out with the up-and-comers, joined the right groups and volunteer organizations to position myself as a leader. I studied my field relentlessly to be the expert.
So, do these activities contribute to leadership skills? Good question – and one that’s not easily answered.
I still recommend similar approaches for young aspiring leaders. Because what else do they have?
Most young people don’t have the experience to draw upon for enduring leadership skills. Our future leaders may have some good tactical skills that will contribute to learning how to strategically lead – but I’m talking about leading when the chips are down and the troops are battle weary.
Type T Leaders
“Transforming Yourself to Senior Leadership” occurs when you truly recognize that the skills that helped you get where you are, may not be the ones that will help you grow the business or lead your folks to do what you used to do yourself.
Rather than share my experiences in this transition, I want to share the insights of some of my clients. I have had the privilege of coaching new and experienced CEOs, VPs and directors of large companies, as well as owners of small and mid-sized organizations, both new and established.
So what separates the “wheat from the chaff,” so to speak, when it comes to senior leadership? Here are some common themes from my clients:
Vision: New leaders can get caught up in office politics or in the tasks needed to accomplish the job. Senior leaders are clear their job is about their vision and avoid getting sidetracked. Not only do they create it, but they are passionate about it and get others involved in the vision. Strategic decisions are made based on the vision and the senior leader understands that.
Charismatic: We’re not talking snake oil here. We’re talking about the ability to communicate in a way that people want to be part of the action. How do you do that? It’s the “P” word again. Passion. Charismatic people speak passionately from the heart about the vision and how others fit in. They create a picture that’s compelling, collaborative and inclusive.
Delegation: From a tactical standpoint, resoundingly, senior leaders talked about delegation. The difference of the senior leader from the aspiring or emerging leader, is they recognize that their top people are capable of making decisions and their role, now, is to endorse, support, or redirect in most situations, not make the decision.
They understand the importance of putting the structures in place to provide checkpoints regarding key performance indicators. They understand that delegation doesn’t mean abdication. These structures help them monitor and coach for the results they want. In addition, senior leaders understand the flow of communication. There are few surprises.
Reflection- Looking Within
As one CEO said, “the responsibility can be overwhelming at first. There’s really no one to turn to but yourself. Before, I could always ‘look up’ for guidance. Now I have had to learn how to look across and down and especially, within.”
Are you willing to take the time to look within so you can transform yourself to senior leadership?
Note – this blog, with slight modifications, was first published in April 2004. The concepts are still true today. I now refer to these leaders as “Type T leaders. These are the people who will lead us into the future.
If you want to be a Type T leader and are willing to look within to be a Transformational Leader, call Marty today: 816-695-5453 firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on being a Type T leader, watch this 1 minute video.
Or order the book on How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom-Line World.