Emerging leaders often express a common frustration to me. They notice that as they get closer to the top of an organization fewer opportunities exist. Moreover, depending on how they handle that frustration, they may move into a state of whining. These future chiefs start complaining about not being given opportunities. They grumble about not ever being the person tagged by the CEO to take on an expanded role. A few different clients have spoke to this frustration recently.
Leaders Create Opportunities
The other day, on a coaching call, an executive was reflecting to me her personal frustration. She had found out that a new department was being established in the company. This new department would be reporting through another executive member. My client would have liked the department to be under her area of responsibility. Through probing I learned that she had never approached the CEO to request that the decision be revisited. She had never stepped up to show leadership in this area. We had a dialogue together about how she was presenting herself. We discussed what kind of leadership she was showing. Long story short, this executive ended up taking the issue forward and presenting a plan. Her CEO’s response was that he was pleased with her initiative. The CEO would now put that new department under her area of responsibility.
True leaders don’t sit and wait for leadership opportunities to be given to them. Leadership is not appointed; it is recognized. Leaders lead. Entrepreneurs take up available space in a marketplace. You either are a leader or not a leader. If you want to advance, be given more responsibility and authority, then stop talking about it. Step up. Provide leadership in a larger space so that those around you recognize and acknowledge what already is. A good check for you, if you think you are a leader, is to look and see how many people are following you.
Coaching for Action
I have another client who for several months has been in an interim C-suite role with a company. A series of interviews will be coming up for this executive as he competes against other candidates that were found through an international executive search. In preparing for the competitive process, my focus for him has not been so much about getting ready for interviews. Rather it has been more about leading in a strategic and meaningful way in the interim role. The best way to demonstrate competency for a role is to DO the role. Do not tell people you can or want to do it…just do it.
Who are the Leaders Among us?
1. You can recognize a leader by the way they lead, even when they are not required, appointed or asked to lead.
2. You can recognize a leader by noticing how many people are listening to them and following them, whether expected to or not.
3. You can recognize a leader by the way they identify strategic or entrepreneurial opportunities and find ways of enter those spaces and providing meaningful value.
Cameron’s Call to Action
1. If you want to be a leader, then step up and lead!
2. If there is a role or some kind of responsibility or accountability you would like, then begin adding value in that area now, so that others recognize it.
3. If you need to identify leaders within, simply watch who IS leading and who people are following.
4. Remember, not everyone is a leader. Just because you want to promote from within and develop people internally, doesn’t mean they all have leadership capability.