Ultimate Guide in Becoming an Executive Leader
You have spent years as a middle manager, overseeing your team's daily operations and reporting to your managers and executives on their progress. You are now ready to join their ranks and begin working on the larger, longer-term "strategic" projects designated for the C-suite.
But how are you going to get there? Because there are many fewer executive positions available than mid-level management positions, climbing to the next rung of the corporate ladder is far more competitive — and hence far more challenging. You may prove your worth and achieve that coveted executive title and responsibilities if you have the correct attitude, work ethic, and connections.
Furthermore, executive leadership may appear glamorous, but it is also tricky. Even the most seasoned CEOs must make a lifelong commitment to learning. New situations force them to put their talents and assumptions to the test regularly. Each new case is unique, regardless of how effective a leader has been in the past.
How To Have Executive Leadership Qualities
Fortunately, strategic leadership abilities are not limited to a select few. Anyone may develop their leadership skills, including communication skills, management abilities, and strategic vision, at any time in their career. Leadership skills developed as a student, or young professional can provide significant benefits later in life. However, where do you begin? Here are a few pointers we've compiled for you.
1. Learn to communicate effectively
Communication is the foundation of good leadership, so it is no surprise that it is the most sought-after soft skill at all levels. Develop your ability to communicate clearly, persuasively, and succinctly, both in person and in writing. Keep in mind that communication is a two-way street that requires both listening and speaking.
Listening actively not only helps your team to accomplish your goals but also earns you respect.
2. Sharpen your emotional intelligence
Root causes can be found in both achievements and failures. It is tempting to assume your innate talent is the reason things are going well, but probe deeper. Expand your analysis to include all of the factors contributing to the success or failure, and then organize your views. This is the key to avoiding mistakes in the future and achieving consistent results.
3. Lead by example
Leaders should only ask their people to do what they are willing to do themselves, notwithstanding how many times it has been mentioned. Leaders who do not subscribe to this attitude can ask for more, but they will rarely receive it – and may even be disliked for doing so.
If you want others to be on time, you must first be on time (or even earlier). Make sure you take pride in your professional appearance if you want people to take pride in theirs.
4. Embody executive presence
"Executive presence" is a complex lens that can help managers increase confidence in themselves and deliberate about improving. First impressions, interpersonal communication skills, body language, effective listening, navigating office politics efficiently, and projecting genuine charisma are all part of it.
Technical abilities may have won the position, but executive presence propels a manager up the corporate ladder.
5. Develop strategic thinking skills
Lower layers of management concentrate on the strategy's day-to-day implementation. Moving up to the executive level necessitates a mentality shift toward investigating the future, becoming aware of the interconnection of systems, and developing actionable strategies.
Diverse mentors, partnerships with peers inside and outside your organization, and executive coaching are all ways to build your thinking.
6. Be mentored by an executive leadership coach.
A trusted coach, as professional sports know, can substantially shorten your learning curve. A coach who can help you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities clearly will also show you how to find the people and situations that will help you thrive.
Some coaches are primarily concerned with skill development, while others serve as sounding boards. Make the investment in a coach who can do both.
1. Think more strategically
Start thinking more strategically and in terms of systems. Learn how the many parts of your company interact with one another. To learn about other business functions or program areas, network with colleagues from various parts of your firm. As you lean into building a broader vision of the company, improve your ability to perceive the connections between things.
2. Step outside your comfort zone
By adding value and treating everyone with respect, you may build a network at all levels of the organization. Extend your knowledge outside your area of expertise and gain a thorough understanding of all aspects of the business.
Learn everything there is to know about cross-pollination within your company. Begin to grow your tribe beyond your immediate vicinity. To make it a no-brainer for the decision-makers, build your reputation.
3. Establish strategic alliances
To lead at the executive level, you must first form strategic alliances. Gaining insight, awareness, and perspective regarding the organization's current and future difficulties will be necessary for advancement to the executive level. Finding a mentor (or mentors) who can assist you gain personal and professional insight into being an executive in that organization is a top tip.
4. Build self-awareness
A significant preparation component for an executive-level role increases one's self-awareness of one's leadership "presence" and effectiveness. A 360-degree feedback approach can reveal a leader's strengths to build on and highlight others' impressions of their leadership efficacy (and any inequalities) to allow for growth and development.
As you advance in your career, you'll be expected to make good decisions for the company, not just for yourself. With experience comes the responsibility of understanding the consequences of your choices. Honor others' contributions, consider the ramifications of each action, and connect with peers, employees, and clients through shared values.
Business expertise is only one factor to consider when it comes to executive leadership. Leaders that can generate clear visions for the future, translate them into action plans, and convey them to many stakeholders are required in today's fast-paced, interconnected society.
Market knowledge now stands shoulder to shoulder with understanding of oneself and one's business. An individual can grow into a well-rounded, effective leader by cultivating and applying ethics, values, and purpose.