The scope is bigger, the issues more complex, the stakes higher. Taking on a senior-level role is a big change for most of us — and it requires a few changes in the way we lead.
This shift is front-and-center in CCL’s Leading for Organizational Impact program. In developing the program, a team of CCL faculty and researchers studied those competencies that are most needed to be successful at senior levels. From that study, CCL developed a new assessment called Leading the Function 360 that measures an individual’s skill level in each area.
If you are currently in a senior leadership role — or aspire to one — pay close attention to these 13 factors for success:
- Self-awareness. Senior leaders are expected to know themselves. Do you know your strengths and how to capitalize on them? Are you aware of your weaknesses and how to compensate for or limit them? Do you adjust your behavior as needed?
- Influence. Are you able to influence superiors, delegate to others and work effectively with people over whom you may have no direct authority?
- Effective Communication. Do you express ideas clearly, communicate complex concepts and encourage open discussion?
- Learning agility. Do you seek new experiences and perspectives, eager to reflect and learn? Are you comfortable acknowledging when you don’t have expertise or answers to complex challenges?
- Working across boundaries. Can you establish strong collaborative relationships? Do you create alliances inside and outside the organization?
- Thinking and acting strategically. How effectively do you integrate strategic and tactical planning? Are you able to translate vision into realistic business strategies, adjust as circumstances change and build in contingency plans?
- Demonstrate vision. Is there a clear direction for your organization’s future? Are you good at communicating and selling the vision? Do you use the vision to stay on track as you and your team make decisions?
- Results orientation. Do you clearly convey objectives, deadlines and expectations — and uphold accountability? Can you align organizational resources to accomplish key objectives?
- Engagement. Are you able to rally support to get things done and motivate others to perform at their best? Can you find common ground and shared purpose among different groups?
- Innovation. Do you generate and encourage new ideas, experiment with novel approaches and seize new opportunities? Are you able to shake up the ways you think and act when necessary?
- Leading globally. Are you able to leverage cultural knowledge and manage and adjust for cultural influences? Do you have the knowledge or experience needed to conduct business throughout the world?
- Understanding the enterprise. Are you attuned to the organization’s big picture and conditions that affect it? Do you seek out strengths, weaknesses and strategic moves of your competitors?
- Approachability. Do you show warmth and a sense of humor? Are you able to put people at ease and connect with them? Do you build networks to stay abreast of potential changes and new trends?
If mastering 13 competencies seems daunting, take heart.
“While all the competencies are important for senior leaders, some may be perceived to be more or less important for success by different people and in different organizations,” says CCL’s Stephanie Trovas. “That’s why our Leading the Function 360 also has bosses, peers and direct reports rate how important each competency is for each manager.”
Knowing the relative importance of each leadership competency will help you gauge what matters most in terms of your learning and effort. The next step is to understand how well you perform in the most critical areas, what strengths you need to leverage, and what areas you can target for development.
If you don’t have a formal way to assess your competencies (working with a leadership coach or participating in a feedback-intensive program), be sure to get input from a range of people. What seems to be most important for your company and in your role? How effective are you currently and what can you do to improve your ability to lead with impact?
“Understanding what matters most and where you stand is extremely valuable at this stage of your career,” suggests CCL’s Rich Walsh. “The rules have changed, so it’s important to adapt and adjust priorities, set goals and make plans that will make the most difference for you, your team and your organization.”