Advancing to the head of a company requires some additional leadership competencies that aren’t quite as important in lesser positions. It’s a given that to be effective, all leaders must be good at interpersonal and communication skills, along with good decision making and being highly productive. But the person at the helm – guiding the organization into the future – needs additional, essential competencies.
In order to be successful at running and growing a company, the head of a company needs to be able to develop a vision for the future, must be able to develop effective and meaningful strategies, and must have the ability to influence an organization.
Vision and Foresight
For a leader to guide a company, it is essential to possess the ability to develop a vision for the organization. A vision imagines a future which is better, different, and/or larger than the current state. Without vision, a leader will simply continue to execute the existing business model, often getting left behind as the economy shifts, customer/client preferences change, and competitors adapt. When a leader has and shares their vision, he or she helps others understand the organization’s direction and aspirations, and inspires the organization to improve.
The ability to develop vision can’t be learned from a book. It arises from within and it requires a leader to have passion and purpose for what they do. A passionless leader can only develop goals – which are uninspiring by their nature. If a leader wants to engage his or her organization, he or she must create a future that causes people to aspire to improve.
The ability to think strategically is essential for leaders guiding an organization. Development of a proper strategy allows a leader to prepare an organization for faster growth and profitability. Without an understanding of what a strategy is and how to develop one, leaders will often focus on goals and tactics. In the absence of a true strategy, these goals and tactics are often misguided and usually result in new challenges arising. A misguided strategy can even cause a decline in growth and profitability.
A good strategy addresses an issue or problem and provides a direction for the company. By developing a true strategy, excellent results can be achieved and the desired financial goals realized. In order for leaders to develop a good strategy, they need to uncover what the underlying problem is and not react to the symptoms it causes. A strategy which addresses a symptom always creates more issues.
Influence and Persuasion
Influence is the ability to change people’s perspectives and beliefs. An influential leader has the ability to sell his or her ideas and get buy-in throughout the organization. Without buy-in, a leader simply gets compliance. But compliance is not the same as commitment. The results gained from the efforts of people who are only doing what is asked of them are very different from the results achieved by people who are enthused and committed.
The art of persuasion – our ability to persuade people to see our perspective – relies on our ability to understand the other person’s motivations and perspectives. Once we understand why they see things the way they do, we can then offer a new view of the situation – one which resonates with the other person.
These three essential leadership competencies don’t come naturally to most people. They need to be nurtured and honed. Blind Spots need to be revealed. Limiting beliefs need to be set aside and replaced with stronger, more expansive beliefs. Outside perspective and an unbiased sounding board are usually required.
An Executive Coach offers all that and more. Leadership skills aren’t trained – they’re developed over time. Utilizing the expertise of an experienced executive coach is the perfect solution for grooming an executive for the next level of leadership. Please let us know if we can help you reach your succession goals.