Strategy is the charter of senior leaders. Or so many people think.
Most of us learn to lead through apprenticeship, watching role models -- good and bad. Some of us study the greats (WWJWD? What would Jack Welch do? WWSJD? What would Steve Jobs do?), but no one finds a simple leadership recipe. We also learn, sometimes painfully, through trial and error on the job. Each of these approaches has a downside. Our bosses don't always become bosses because of their best practice leadership skills; so their style may not be the best model to replicate.
We work in fast-paced, changing organizations that have structures that are less and less…structured. To get work done, leaders have to be savvier than ever at knowing when, how and who to talk to. This requirement can be a heavy burden for a new leader, having entered the management ranks with a small network and communication skills that may or may not be ready for the task.
“Your social skills are good for something”. This was the headline earlier this week from one of my favorite email feeds: The Daily Stat from the Harvard Business Review (HBR). It’s a quick read and often has interesting facts. Here’s the key statistic:
Making business decisions purely based on the numbers and economics is not that difficult. It’s when you add the human factor that business decisions become exponentially more challenging and nuanced. When I explain what Insight Experience does, I almost always end up making this point. I recently attended a conference with senior Learning, Talent and HR executives where I engaged in this discussion at least two dozen times. Leaders need to learn how to work through people and make confident decisions that balance the economics and the human factor—and it’s the human factor that’s the most challenging.
We all know that leaders are most successful if they are able to coach and develop their teams.
When it comes to developing new leaders, many organizations face a paradox. While it’s clear first-level leaders need to jump into new roles quickly, they often aren’t provided the support they need to let go of doing and start managing.