I have the privilege of working alongside executives and business owners across Madison and southern Wisconsin. It’s fascinating to learn about each of their businesses, but more importantly, the challenges they face in their leadership roles. One of the real dilemma’s that comes with being the top leader is that leaders around you will not always offer you the unfiltered truth, feedback, or the information you need to hear as a CEO.
Executive leaders and business owners certainly have access to resources, but need to access and process information at warp speed. The analogy I often hear is that they are working harder than ever to keep all the plates spinning and balanced before one or more comes crashing down in a violent explosion. Imagine the spinning plates you oversee as a business owner or executive: operational efficiency, leadership performance, customer satisfaction, cash flow & budget, human resources, profitability, technology, etc. Finally, while information is limited and the pace is ever increasing, the number of plates you are balancing is probably increasing as well.
Sound familiar? The world around us and the conditions we work under have certainly changed. The question is how can I help these executive help themselves? How can I help them to be even more successful than they already have become?
The answer often begins by looking at their primary role and responsibilities. What is it that you are accountable for? How do they and their board define success? Who do they surround themselves with that they value and can trust? And finally, how will I be able to help them move from spinning plates to circles of influence to strategic leadership?
Circle of influence was originally coined by Stephen Covey in his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His model defined circle of influence as the significant issues people can identify and have control to do something about. In addition, it speaks to the roles and responsibilities that all executive leaders share: business direction, professional acumen, and strategic leadership.
The roles and expectations within these three spheres of influence is an appropriate discussion to start with. More often than not, executive leaders and business owners have risen through the ranks in responsibility given the professional and technical acumen they demonstrated. They are effective and driven performers. Very rarely do they need help here, especially from me. At times, I will be asked to help them focus and clarify the future direction of the business, but I often find the most significant gap lies between the expectations and reality within strategic leadership.
Feeling overwhelmed or out of control? It certainly happens to me. Take a look at the expertise and impact you are having with these three spheres of influence. Once you have developed your abilities, the next stage of development is to establish a greater alignment between the three. That will be the focus of my upcoming blog – stay tuned.
Business and executives who we admire and often look up to are those who have strong technical and professional backgrounds, spend time working on the business as they establish and lead others to a preferred future, and finally, have the strategic leadership skills required to lead others, build commitment and establish their own set of followers. Who do you admire most. How do they perform in theses three important roles?
The development of strategic leadership is a progressive journey, taking years of commitment and intention to develop significant improvements and real growth. It begins with belief, develops perspective, then skills and abilities, and finally, the complexity of aligning your leadership ability to the needs of the business and your clients.
Good luck! If you need some help, you know how to find me.