When you think of senior leaders at your organization, are they more likely to spend their time:
- zooming from meeting to meeting, generating reports and bashing through an endless task list or
- developing strategy, delegating to trusted staff and inspiring employees through strengths-based coaching?
Most likely, your answer is ‘a.’ You may even be one of those managers swept away by the tidal wave of meetings, busywork and deadlines. There are any number of reasons for this—from downsizing causing work to be divvied among fewer employees to a myopic focus on immediate targets blinding us to the bigger picture.
You want a captain who has enough foresight to steer the ship away from danger. Click To Tweet
The Grander Vision
Whatever the excuse, you have to admit senior leadership bears some responsibility for articulating the grander vision of the organization, seeing past the urgent projects and daily crises to achieve a broader, deeper perspective.
You want a captain who has enough foresight to steer the ship away from danger and toward smooth waters. If she’s stuck in the engine room, how can she scan the horizon for icebergs and storm clouds?
Two Tracks: Senior Leaders & Individual Contributors
At The Context of Things, Ted Bauer recently blogged about how senior leaders shouldn’t be individual contributors. Instead, he floats an idea that got shot down by a previous employer of his: rather than making senior management the only career advancement option, offer an alternative “individual contributor” track—of equal pay.
This accomplishes two things: 1) it prevents unqualified people from becoming one of the 82 percent of poor manager hires (who subsequently make life miserable for their underlings and sap productivity), and 2) it acknowledges the unique strengths of key individual players, allowing them to blossom in ways that may otherwise never occur in a traditional corporate structure.
Such an approach could harness untapped talents while enabling the truly gifted leaders to rise to their calling. Managers who entrust their staff with tasks they would typically undertake not only empower those contributors but also free them to concentrate on influential strategic decisions.Imagine a leader who balances an eagle’s eye view with an empathetic approach. Click To Tweet
A Better Way
When only a third of senior leadership can identify company priorities, something is askew. When managers spend more time head-down at their desks than getting to know their staff, they are failing as leaders.
Imagine instead a leader who balances an eagle’s eye view of the organization—comprehending its innate culture, branding and marketing tactics—with an empathetic and astute appreciation of every employee. That manager would understand how to elicit the best from his employees in concert with the organization’s deeper mission, conducting a harmonious symphony in pursuit of long-term strategic goals.
The Path Forward
This may feel daunting to managers trapped in the corporate grind and facing a seemingly infinite to-do list. You don’t have to do it alone.
Through executive coaching, you can identify your own natural abilities, charting a path toward strategic leadership and becoming an inspiration for your employees as you model transformation.
In addition to igniting your personal and professional growth, Chris Cook can help your company discover its DNA. Her organizational consulting services will make the big picture crystal clear while outlining specific steps you and your staff can take to achieve your company’s aspirational vision.