The Common Experience of Executive Leadership

leadership is hard work, discipline and motivation

There is a commonality of the executive leadership experience across industries. Executive leaders have a two-sided responsibility:

  1. To lead, motivate and communicate,

  2. To be self aware of their role and its impact.

For the purposes of this discussion, we are examining executive leaders who are responsible for leading the enterprise, its composite functions and those leaders who lead the functions.

As a leader, you live in four quadrants:

  1. Your role and responsibilities

  2. Challenges confronting your organization

  3. Solutions you’re looking for now, and long term

  4. Your professional support system and continual development

Leadership development, like any development program, needs to target to the individual learner by accounting for the functional role of each leader participating in the program. Second, it’s important to determine the goals and expected outcomes of the program and lastly, and possibly most important for the senior leader, is the situational context of what needs to be learned must be identified. This includes understanding contributing variables that define the context such as:

  1. Organizational culture,

  2. Organizational strategy,

  3. Organizational challenges.

Another area of commonality is the four areas of competency as outlined by The Center for Creative Leadership. These are:

  1. Self awareness

  2. Learning agility

  3. Influence

  4. Communication

It’s fairly evident that everyone, but leaders in particular need a self-awareness of their actions and what impact their behavior has on others. Leaders need to recognize and understand what their influence is and how best to communicate with their direct reports and everyone in the organization. Finally, leaders need to possess a learning agility. This means they are open to learning and are able to apply new knowledge to current situations and challenges.

One area where there are differences is in Ken Blanchard’s Four Development Levels of Leaders. In this case, we know that each of us is in a different place in terms of readiness to learn and change. By recognizing what type of learner you are, you can help yourself to work toward becoming a self-reliant achiever.

A first step for a senior leader on a journey of self development is to determine which competency needs the most work and in which level on the Blanchard scale you fall.

Recognizing the two sides of leader responsibility and accepting the importance of being self-directed for your professional development, will help you identify the programs you need to grow and excel, while considering their context in relation to your organization’s challenges.

Remember, leaders learn from each other but what may be most important is looking at oneself and the persona and presentation you show others.

Knowledge Advantage can help you plan and direct your leadership development programs. Give us a call for a free consultation to identify your needs. 860.256.7879.

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