Never do you forget that sinking feeling like an executive, treading water as the tide keeps rising. The painted picture of what it was supposed to be like, the natural career progression; however, the reality of the speed of change within that role is so real for new time executives. Harvard Business Review reported that 50 percent of executives would leave within the first 18 months of their appointment.
Executives feel like they carry the weight of the world in a turbulent and complex environment. Ron Carucci in his Harvard Business Review article reported that “38 percent of executives said they didn’t expect the loneliness and isolation that accompanied their jobs and 54 percent said they felt they were being held accountable for problems outside their control”. The pressure to produce results is never-ending and at times, unforgiving. Sometimes, executives need a guiding light to walk alongside them to illuminate the path forward, establish credibility and sustain their results.
Like an elite professional who engages a sports coach to develop and strengthen capabilities, skills and mindset, successful executives access tailored-made advice to reveal their blind spots, leverage their strengths and support them to carve a way forward. When organizations invest in accelerating the learning curve, they build influencing skills and minimize the risk of mediocre team leadership.
The executive learning curve, moving from operational to strategic thinking and leadership, alongside rapid change, can be one of the most significant challenges for a new leader. Many executives do not make a successful leap. Here are eight ways to set up new leaders for success.
The same qualities do not lead to success
When executives transition into their first-time experience, they must invest in consciously separating themselves from the day to day decisions to be more comfortable with ambiguity. Executives who embrace the uncertainty, leverage ambiguous environments, are in a prime position to launch new ideas and try on new approaches and behaviors. By transitioning from technical responsibilities to a strategic leader that invests in forward-facing thinking, allows the executive to paint a picture of what is possible and graciously pull people along.
Related: 10 Leadership Principles for 2020
Engage the hearts and minds of people
Moving to a new level of leadership demands an ability to influence others to accomplish what is needed. Executive leadership involves facilitating people through risk and change; therefore, trust is vital to building the bridge. No leader is an island and cultivating the power of networks will identify people who will lead and execute the vision. When executives do not invest in building and nurturing those relationships, there will be a lack of buy-in and commitment to bring the vision to reality.
The adaptative leader
In today’s climate, executives must quickly adapt and make decisions when needed. The rate of change continues to speed up. Executives must lead with transparency, consistency, take action to create stability within the environment and continue to deliver quality services despite the level of disruptive change. The adaptive leader builds skills for unlocking the potential in people, mobilize collective wisdom and lead collaboratively innovative solutions to drive change. This new type of leader is the catalyst for real transformation this decade.
The slippery slope of overconfidence
The overconfident leader can negate the leadership qualities you want within your organization and can cross the line into the danger zone. Executive overconfidence has been blamed for company failure and financial distress within organizations. Overconfidence can hinder a leader’s authenticity, be the enemy of humility and stain the fabric of an organization by putting them at risk. Self-confidence plays a role in leadership. When executives understand their strengths and areas for development in a balanced way, they can break through obstacles as challenges, lead their inner critic and create the right environment for problems to be solved.
Shut up and listen
The best advice l was every given when transitioning into a new executive role was to “shut and listen”. The evolution of a new role may be unlearning everything that you know to step into the position of listener and learner. Executives must create a different type of operating system to interact and communicate within and external to the organization.
Calm within the storm
Executive presence is a vital leadership characteristic that costs nothing, but everyone gains. When an executive comes from a place of inner clarity and conviction, it evolves from what matters most to you. Executives that have presence look for the best in people acknowledge that everyone has faults and make mistakes, including themselves and they, focus on what matters. What l mean is that they don’t confuse urgent for necessary and remain committed to the priorities. They are the calm within the chaos because they know their best emotional state and remain fully present.
Executives must know who they are. There strengths, passion and areas of development are foundational pillars. The “I can do anything” mantra doesn’t work in the world of executive leadership. Buying the delusion that you can do everything is a false economy. Instead, a 360-feedback process opens the door to explore how others experience you on your leadership abilities. Behavioral profiling tools, such as Extended DISC, will also provide insight into how you are naturally wired, foster opportunities to adapt your thinking and behavior to be more productive, appreciate your motivators, strengths and developmental areas. It also improves opens conversations within teams in terms of how effective communication is flowing up and down the organization and creates a platform to understand and reshape organizational culture.
Invest in executive coaching
The first 90 days of an executive’s transition is critical. Engaging an executive coach can unlock a leader’s potential to maximize overall performance and the bottom line. By investing in executive coaching, you can build your skills, a strategic plan to ensure growth and a bright future path. Successful leaders continuously improve and develop their skills and are committed to having a safe place to grow, learn and be challenged.
In a case study, Harvard Business Review reported that one financial services company approached the execution of the new schedule in simple ways – “articulate a hypothesis. Go out and experiment. And if it doesn’t work, then why not? What did you learn? Add to it. Capture your learning. Share it with other people.”
The executive coaching relationship can be a powerful catalyst to create a sustainable growth plan and in partnership, support you to navigate the challenges and celebrate the successes — an alliance to propel you and the organization for success.