I’m often asked about the work I do, the issues I deal with, and the tasks necessary for me to be successful. I run through my story and explain how cool my company is, and discuss some of the innovative work we do to support our clients.
But there is an essential component of the work I’m involved with that is very difficult to explain…
…the ability to demonstrate leadership savvy in the face of questions, challenges, or outright crisis.
In my twenty years in leadership roles I’ve identified a few key elements that can make or break both new and well tenured leaders.
Understand the Organization
This sounds absurd, right? How could someone in a leadership role not understand how the organization operates, generates revenue, and takes care of it’s talent in the modern world? It is quite simple actually, and here’s how I’ve seen it happen over and over again.
Bright leaders who specialize in a certain discipline (finance, accounting, information technology, human resources, nursing, operations, marketing, executive leadership, etc.) rise through the ranks based on their ability to lead their specialized scope of responsibility.
What they fail to do is think across the enterprise and ask questions:
– How does my work impact the organization’s ability to generate revenue?
– What is the current state of talent attraction and retention and what specifically do I need to do to ensure I support the organization?
– Do I consciously live the values of the organization and role model them 100% of the time to all of those employees that are watching me as a leader?
Challenge yourself as a leader…it’s what you’re getting paid to do.
The savvy leader not only understands the organization, but is also courageous enough (yes, courageous) to be humble. This is where so many talented leaders fail miserably.
They may say all the right things (or at least most of the time say the right things); however, their delivery is so poor, and their behavior often does not match their words.
Think for a moment about the leaders that dominate meetings, talk and talk and talk, and insist their view is the “right” one.
Do they earn the respect of the team; or are there eye rolls, smirks behind their backs, and a sense of fear among their team that unless they comply there will be consequences?
“When the focus of the work is no longer about proving how valuable you are, and shifts to making everyone feel valuable and understanding all of the work being done…that is leadership savvy.”
How About You
What steps are you taking to ensure you are a savvy leader? Are you quick thinking on your feet? Are you keenly aware of the negative energy in a room, and you understand what the real dynamics are that are playing out? Can you connect all of the drivers in an organization and understand how they fit together?
What about your colleagues who’ve lost their way? Have you had the hard conversation with them to help them get back on track? That’s part of our job too, right?
I’d love to hear from you.