You need Leadership Skills to ascend to the C-Suite
A young friend of mine called me recently and said he was being considered for the CEO position of his young but growing company
He was elated, so excited, so thrilled to be considered until the “be careful what you wish for” axiom popped into his head and he realized he was pretty inexperienced in leading an organization of any size
We went on to talk about his concerns and as he began to think about his candidacy, it dawned on him that he had a very limited finance background … he didn’t think much about communication … and could be a better team player.
While he was proud that his strategic perspective caught the Board of Director’s attention, he wasn’t sure how to get everyone on the same page to actually implement it, since he tends to work tactically without looking to see if anyone is following him
Technical Skills are just the beginning
An April, 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, The Path to the C-Suite, (subscription or purchase required for the full article), confirmed yet again that the functional and technical skills that lead people to the C-Suite are NOT what is required for promotion or success
Rather, it is the softer skills leadership, communication and collaboration that differentiate the successful business leader
Great Leaders are lifelong learners
We recently kicked off our Nothing but Leadership series, but we’ve already published a lot of valuable leadership material, including our recent RESPECT series, How to Get Respect by Earning It, which is now available as an e-book.
You can’t start soon enough to hone these skills so they’re battle-tested and baked into your conduct and performance
If you’re a lifelong learner, some of these tools and techniques may be familiar to you
If you’re not, start now to devote some time to reaching beyond your comfort zone to equip yourself to be the best leader possible
Consider working with an experienced Executive Coach
Another step you can take to develop your leadership skills, and take advantage of the experience and expertise of more seasoned executives, is to work with an executive coach
“Why Everyone Needs a Coach“, outlines some of the reasons this might work for you, and how that process has been so valuable for so many other professionals
It’s another way to expand your portfolio and start to work “on your business” instead of only “in your business”, to step back and devote some quality time to rounding out your skill set by focusing on proven tools and concepts that have been successfully deployed by other successful leaders
Leadership = Communication
Here’s a good place to start developing your awareness of what it takes to BE a better leader
Consider the notion that “LEADERSHIP = COMMUNICATION“, a perspective embraced by many business leaders
While a simple formula can’t capture all of the elements of leadership, this is certainly the right place to start because there’s not a single leader who believes that he or she couldn’t improve their communication skills
They are an irreplaceable tool of top leaders, who constantly struggle to devote enough bandwidth to communicate with all of the constituents serving your organization.
Leadership = Communication
Try this even for one day.
Look at everything you deal with through the lens of LEADERSHIP = COMMUNICATION.
Are you taking the time to communicate effectively?
Are you certain everyone is clear about what you’ve communicated?
How can you do it better?
Start raising your Leadership Quotient now!
I’m going to give you a head start on this approach, and provide a simple checklist of communication objectives just below
In The Value of Checklists, I’ve written about the simple but invaluable process of using checklists to make sure you don’t overlook seemingly minor but critical steps in any process
Start with this matrix and create a Communication Action Plan relevant to your specific business.
If nothing else, this process will give you a road map to make sure you’re touching base with people across the organization from varied constituencies.
All the time … not just when you have to for a specific assignment … but when you should be sharing … learning … building your network … and being aware of what others are doing.
Thinking it is one thing
Getting others to follow is quite another.
Communication is the cornerstone of successful leadership.
Like me, you’ve already learned the hard way that it’s one thing to be the generator of great ideas to move your company forward
It’s quite another to communicate those ideas, lead people in the execution of the strategy and achieve the level of accountability in the organization to make sure everything gets done
Your ability, clearly and in simple terms, to articulate the vision, mission and goals of your organization is absolutely essential to your success
Get started with your Communication Action Plan
You can get started using this simple communication matrix
Create a Communication Action Plan by deciding the What, Who, When and How of a robust and relentless communication program
Make sure to get all of the action items on your calendar so they don’t get left out in the maelstrom of your day
What do you think?
Are you a lifelong learner?
How much time are you spending on the “softer skills” of becoming a great leader?
Can you improve your communication quotient just by living this concept,
LEADERSHIP = COMMUNICATION?