Kiara has risen to the top of her organization and is now a vice president. Her goal is to become CMO and ultimately a CEO. But Kiara has no idea what she is missing to make that transition. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know yet. And she is pretty clear that what got her to her current level are not the skills and behaviors that will get her to the next level.
Tom was recently promoted to CEO after the previous CEO left the company. He had moved quickly up the ladder. A gifted and brilliant engineer, he is one of the best in the field and widely respected for his intelligence and his ability to lead engineering teams. What he doesn’t know is how to lead an entire organization consisting of engineers, sales people and marketing experts, how to engage with his board, and how to steer the company through inevitable change.
As a leader you must increase your level of performance and efficiency when you are tested by larger operational demands. It’s called scaling yourself. Do you know how to do that? Do you know how to successfully transition from being a subject matter expert to a leader who can be trusted with greater responsibility? Do you have good leadership skills?
So what would it take for Kiara and Tom to scale themselves? What would it take for them to increase their level of performance and efficiency and effectiveness?
For that matter, what would it take for you to scale yourself? Are you wondering what new behaviors you need to develop? Are you wondering how you could pivot your personal brand?
Here are six steps to scale yourself and become a better leader:
1) Commit to grow
First, and perhaps most obviously, you need to want to grow. Many leaders lack the will and ambition to transform themselves. This is fine, of course, if their dreams don’t stretch beyond the level they have reached. But more ambitious leaders need to create realistic growth targets and develop plans and concrete actions of how growth will be achieved. The commitment to growth is the first thing I listen for when I interview a prospective client. Were you told to get a coach or are you committed to your own development?
2) Broaden your skill set
You need an expanded leadership skill set. Leaders need to assess honestly and with feedback from peers, bosses and direct reports an accurate assessment of the existing skill set. Without knowing what is in your toolbox already, how could you possibly know what tools are missing? You might have some inkling, but you might discover you have skills you are undervaluing and some you are lacking that are vital for your success. Mentors can help you figure out how to acquire the necessary skills because they have had to go through the same learning curve. Coaches on the other hand can be more objective in identifying limiting beliefs and challenge you to break out of your comfortable mold.
3) Build collaborations
To effectively collaborate you need a useful network inside and outside your organization. Leaders get to the top by being hands on and getting stuff done. They are very tactical and relatively narrowly focused. That’s why they succeed. However, to solve the problems that come with greater responsibility, being tactical doesn’t help. You need to be proactive and strategic in solving the issues at hand. And you can’t do it by yourself. No one has all the answers. Build and grow a useful network that will enable you to come up with better answers. Note: Building collaborations is different than building networks. You can have 1,000 LinkedIn connections, but are you serving your network so you can ask for help when you need it?
4) Establish standardized processes
Inaction can be the enemy of growth. To scale, leaders need to implement standardized and repeatable processes with proper delegation. This may mean taking a closer look at who you can delegate to, what you delegate and how effective your delegation is. Realistically, every process that you engage in currently needs to be reevaluated and improved to match the new responsibilities. How do you structure your day, week, month? How do you handle communication (from email to meetings)? How do you engage with people who are vital to your success and who depend on your leadership to perform?
5) Identify core competence
Without core competence it is difficult to create strategies. Many leaders have emerged without articulating theirs. Leaders need to identify and emphasize their core competencies — the unique knowledge that underlies their capability to lead the organization. The clearer you and your team’s core competencies are, the more there is success, performance and growth.
6) Identify and engage unique stakeholders
With increased responsibility comes a new set of stakeholders. A new CEO has to collaborate with the board just like a new CMO now has to interact with all the business units. Identify who your new stakeholders are and how you can engage all of them. To succeed you have to avoid the temptation of making assumptions. Your subject matter expertise is not sufficient to understand and grasp what all your stakeholders now need from you. Stop, listen, hear and reflect on what you are being told before taking action based on assumptions.
With good leadership skills, Kiara and Tom are better equipped to lead. You will be, too.
If you found this article useful and inspiring, feel free to check out the list of 10 New Behaviors You Need to Develop if you want to scale yourself.