These Have to Change When You Become an Executive Leader
When a person is promoted to a leadership position as a CEO, COO, president, or senior executive there are three primary competencies that must change to be effective:
- Strategic-level perspective and thinking — Only by elevating one’s perspective to include the entire enterprise (or the part the executive leads) can the leader address the most important tasks and focus the organization on the right things.
- The skills needed to lead at a high level — Such skills include strategic planning, strategy communication and implementation, delegation and accountability, change leadership all become far more important.
- How time is allocated — Determining how to spend time is perhaps the most difficult. Senior leaders need to spend their time on the things only they can do — not what others can do — and be both highly efficient and ruthless in guarding their time, especially for reflection. Move a few things a mile instead of many things an inch.
As a senior leader, how are you doing on these key competencies?
Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust. He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years. Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .
Contact him at: email@example.com.
If you want to build a high-performance team at the top, you’ve got to have managers who are professionally close. The big mistake many companies make is to dream-up “team” activities meant to bring key managers together in a personal way — going bowling together or having social outings. There’s nothing wrong with doing those activities, but they won’t create a high-performance team. Here’s what will:
- The members must have as a key goal, creating a high-performance team.
- They have to experience productive conflict, where they worked through differences to find a solution to a problem or a clear direction forward.
- They have to agree on priorities and be aligned with them.
- They have to have healthy respect for what each other brings to the group.
- They have to personally encourage each other, and have high expectations for each other.
- They have to challenge each other to continually raise the bar in terms of their own professional development. No high performance team can exist with one or more participants standing.
© Copyright 2016 Bob Legge
Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
From my observations over 30 years of consulting, coaching, and executive work:
- The best leaders know that people respond to excellent managers, challenging and stimulating work, and high-level opportunities to grow.
- They do not underestimate their people—ever.
- They are candid, honest, and up-front with people; never playing “gotcha,” “favorites,” or pretending to seek consensus when they already know what they want to do.
- They welcome input, debate, and contrary views on key decisions knowing that different perspectives and ideas will improve everyone’s decision making. But once a decision is made they expect everyone to fully support it, both publicly and privately.
- They set their standards of performance high, even though they know that people will respond at different levels.
- They demand that people move at the leader’s pace because they know that people will become faster and better. (As opposed to going the pace of the slowest person.)
- They get a sense of pride and accomplishment from the accomplishments of their people, and they recognize people for doing great work.
- They find that helping others to exceed their own expectations is extremely rewarding.
- They make tough decisions when they need to and don’t allow bad behaviors or dysfunctional relationships to continue.
- Finally, they understand that their own behaviors have a significant impact on the entire organization and its culture, so they are role models.
I find it fascinating to watch excellent coaches and I saw a master at work over the weekend. It was a horse eventing clinic run by champion British equestrian Lucinda Green–a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. And what she told the clinic participants applies equally well to leaders of organizations.
As the participants on horseback gathered following an exercise, she said that whether an equestrian is in competition or in practice, the rider has only three primary things to focus on; the horse does the rest. The three can be remembered by the acronym ELBOW. E is for Engine — the power required at any given time is requested and maintained by the rider. L is for Line — the rider chooses the line or direction the horse will go. B is for Balance — keeping in proper balance to enable the horse to perform at its best safely. OW is when you get one of the three wrong.
Focus the power of your organization on the right priorities, provide the direction you want it to go, and maintain the right balance of demand. Then let your organization perform at its best. That’s good advice.
© Bob Legge 2014 All rights reserved
Golf carts are equipped with governors to keep the cart from going too fast. I think many organizations have governors too, designed to keep employees from going too fast. Micromanaging, keeping people guessing about what is coming next, consuming time with meetings, reports, and approvals, etc. They all serve as governors and are remnants of a time when bureaucracy was needed to control processes and systems. But the information age has changed all that.
Today, speed is a competitive advantage. Faster new products, faster services, faster results. The task of the leader is to get the most from their people, to enable things to move faster and to simultaneously build both capabilities and self-confidence. Those leaders push on the accelerator, not the brake, and they dismantle organizational mechanisms that act as governors.
“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” — Peter Drucker.
Last month I wrote about the three key factors of successful strategy implementation: A distinctive strategy, effective leadership, and a sharply-focused organization. Of the three, only leadership provides the traction to continually move a strategy forward. Here are ten ways leaders can strengthen their ability to implement and execute strategy:
- Take the lead. Be visible. Communicate incessantly. The most effective leaders are continually talking in terms of the strategy and showing the way forward. When you implement a strategy you are taking your organization into the future. Give people a very clear picture of where you are headed, get people to buy-in and change how the organization thinks about itself. Projects and timelines are critically important, but don’t confuse those with leadership.
- Prioritize. Strategy is about making choices about what you will do and equally important, what you won’t do. If you’re trying to be world-class in everything, then it’s highly likely that you don’t have a good strategy to begin with. Focus on the few most important initiatives and drive them forward a mile instead of trying to move everything forward an inch.
- Build strong buy-in among your top team. Head nodding in agreement during a strategy session won’t cut it. You need every senior leader to be strongly advancing the strategy by publicly (and privately) supporting it, and by demonstrating support through their actions and behaviors: How they communicate and make decisions. This is the number one reason why strategies don’t get implemented.
- Allocate resources to achieve the strategy. Make sure the key strategic initiatives are adequately staffed and given the appropriate resources to get the job done. If you don’t, the strategy will go on the back burner or be seen as an add-on to everyday tasks.
- Objectively assess the skills needed for the strategy to be successful. You have to very tough on this one. If the skills aren’t there you need to take action to correct it, or change the strategy. For example, if new products are a key to your strategy, you’ll need excellent new product development talent and process.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of implementation skills, particularly leading organization change and transformation. There are effective and ineffective ways to drive change in organizations. You want an organization that embraces change, and is eager to make it happen. But all too often, change is ineffective and the result is short-term and superficial with an alienated workforce. You’ve got to have the right implementation skills, and they are not normally found within most organizations. This is the number two reason why strategies don’t get implemented.
- Make the strategic tactical. Drive strategies down to individual performance objectives and decision-making. Foster both accountability and transparency. You want everyone accountable for their part in achieving strategic objectives, and you want everyone to know how well they are doing. If you have a new strategy, and peoples’ jobs don’t change, something is wrong.
- Assiduously maintain a strategic focus throughout the organization. Keep its attention on achieving strategic objectives and head-off the tangents and diversions that are all too alluring.
- Be personally involved in moving forward the few most important strategic initiatives. Not running them. And certainly not micro-managing them. But making sure that everyone knows which initiatives are most important and that you are closely watching the progress.
- Engage the organization. Both intellectually and emotionally. Slide presentations about strategy rarely connect. A good story will.
1. Give them a jerk for a boss
2. Announce a layoff
3. Focus them on routine tasks instead of business results
4. Don’t tell them the overall vision and strategy
5. Blame and criticize profusely and highlight mistakes and failures
6. Avoid telling why something is done or needs to happen
7. Take all the credit for achievements
8. Impose policies, procedures, approvals, etc. to restrict everything they do
9. Announce that you’re going to practice pay for performance, then give everyone the same merit increase
10. Keep misfits and non-performers and load additional work on good performers