I ran across a research study from a while back that really made me think. It was prepared by the mega-consulting firm, McKinsey, about the challenges that leaders face when they ascend to C-level positions.
The tease on the email announcing the study grabbed me:
A new survey finds that executives who move effectively into the C-suite are communicating priorities, valuing their teams, spending time on culture, and understanding their unique leadership role.
The headline describes effective leaders, regardless of their job titles:
1. Communicating priorities. What are the fights your team MUST win? For most of us, it’s new business, more than ever before. UPGRADE Selling® with existing clients… tent pole events like Olympics or football… owning KEY accounts… critical digital initiatives. That’s 5 things, which is about all that can be important.
I see too many managers who treat everything as important right down to the smallest opportunity. But if you win all the small fights and miss on one of the fights above… you lose.
Have you identified YOUR critical fights? Does your team know them? Do you have plans in place to win those fights?
2. Valuing their teams. This is huge. I write about it often. Do the top people on your team know they’re valued? When was the last time you (or your boss) told them how much they’re appreciated. It doesn’t make you weaker as a leader to praise your people. It makes you stronger.
3. Spending time on culture. It’s hard to say which of these 4 is the most important, because they all are. But this one might top my list. I say this after having the chance to see hundreds of sales managers lead their teams. The top 10% clearly have a culture in which people like to work. Of course, #1 and #2 on this list are critical pieces of culture, but it’s more than that. One element of your culture that I think is essential is dealing with your underperformers.
4. Understanding your unique leadership role. There’s so much here we could write about, but let’s stick to two that I think are important.
– Leaders make sure they have the RIGHT team to win the game.
– Leaders (as opposed to managers) spend time looking further out to try to determine how their organization will change to be successful in a new environment.
I hope, like me, this makes you think.
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