You are the potential leader, dreaming of an executive office and a corporate spending account. Did you know that having attractive personal qualities and values are only part of becoming a successful leader? Executive leadership transcends the winning personality and the professional training of a leader. Many people prepare themselves to lead, but a select few find the connection between persona and mobilizing human capital toward long-term achievements.
Since corporate executives navigate firms on behalf of investors who have sunk their personal fortunes into the corporation, it is logical to expect that these same investors want the best leaders in charge of the firm. To set yourself apart as you try to join the ranks of executive management, you must discover the right combination of persona, action, and results.
According to Ulrich, Zenger, and Smallwood, authors of “Results-Based Leadership:”
“Being capable and possessing the attributes of leadership is terrific, but capability must be put to appropriate, purposeful use.”
Capability is a loaded concept. Your capacity to translate skill into results will create positive or negative impacts in the organization you lead. How do you gauge your own capability?
In truth, leadership by personality alone will fail you at some point in the future. The desire to lead is admirable, but the absence of results does not inspire investors. This article provides three questions and reflective answers that can help you to decide if you can lead in this new century.
Q: Do I have the right combination of personality and ability to manage human capital effectively?
A: Make an inventory of all the qualities that you think an effective leader should have. Think about values, personality traits, competencies, specific behaviors, and outcomes people might give an effective leader in a 360-degree survey. Each company develops its own leadership framework, emphasizing certain desirable leadership qualities over others. Develop your own inventory by emphasizing strengths and building on weaknesses. Then target your goals to managing for a firm whose leadership model matches what you have to offer and what kind of leader you aspire to be.
Q: Can I inspire and motivate the people of any organization to new levels of success, including achievement of short-term and long-term goals?
A: This is a tough question that merits consideration. When you are in charge of defining direction for a firm, employ the right strategies to use human capital to the fullest potential. If you can lead using shared responsibility, people will be more likely to give their best effort. With each person maximizing their contribution, the organization as a comprehensive team will reach higher levels of success. The leader will also have to steer the organization through various changes, including periods of growth and difficulty. The leader will have to continuously get results from workers. Consider what you will personally do to inspire and motivate others over long periods of time.
Q: Can I help the organization to grow and change with the market?
As a leader, you can harness the skills and information offered by the people under your command. Can you make the right business decisions at the right time? This involves knowing when to take risks, when to ask for outside help, and when to fall back on safer courses of action. When you make decisions, think about how you will explain them to the organization. Think about how you will maintain the trust and confidence of your workforce. Think about how they will continue to give you results. You will have to change to the market and lead people to change with the market. If the organization’s workforce is aligned with its goals, the results will be achieved.
Being a leader is challenging, especially being responsible for millions in corporate assets. The decision to pursue executive leadership is a big one. Books like “Results-Based Management” will provide certain clues to effective leadership. Your ultimate test will be accepting a position and testing your mettle against the challenges of people in a dynamic organization.