More than ever Leadership skills are critical for success. In the new world of hyper-connectivity and information overload being able to identify what is essential and what is just noise, will identify the true future leaders. It requires more than being a ’subject matter expert’ (SME) and in fact, I think being recognised as an SME will hold you back.
As Goldsmith said ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’ is absolutely true and being seen as an expert in your field will serve you very well in the early part of your career but if you aspire to get to the top you need to have a real shift in mindset and behaviour. No longer will you be able to rely on your expertise, and the success of your own area to show your worth. You will need to move to a place where your success is measured
You will need to move to a place where your success is measured on the success of other peoples successes and you will no longer get the lion share of the credit. Ideally, you will surround yourself with high achieving, ambitious people who may know as much or more than you and who want your job. In my experience, this is a big step for many professionals climbing the corporate ladder. As you move up and take on responsibility for businesses or departments outside your area of expertise you need to ‘let go’ of knowing the ‘answer’ and be able instead to ask the ‘right question’. This takes maturity and different leadership skills.
Often another challenge for professionals in my experience is that early on in their career they pride themselves in getting the ‘right answer’. Often black and white thinking. Right or wrong. This won’t work at the top! There often isn’t a right or wrong answer – another mindset shift and a need to exercise influencing and negotiating skills.
These mindset shifts not only require you to re-invent your own self-concept but necessitate in re-branding yourself in the workplace. Without others looking at you differently and recognising that you are now more than your technical know-how, you are stuck. One way to do this is to change roles or even organisations.
As you climb further up the tree, there is more and more need to balance future goals with current needs. This requires thinking time. Something which is less and less available these days. You need to stop doing and reflect, analyse, accept advice and decide. This long-term perspective requires a level of maturity and selflessness. No longer can you think of only yourself and your success but you need to think of the organisation as a whole and your legacy.
Growing as a leader takes constant work and attention. Watching and modeling great leaders at work can really help hone your skills but a coach can accelerate the pace and help you identify an authentic leadership style of your own that is effective and gets results.