Throughout an executive’s career progression there is a requirement to demonstrate initiative, ownership, and at times sheer guts. Guts to do the right thing requires a combination of integrity such as balancing your own career aspirations along with what is best for the organisation at large. As you advance it becomes essential to develop a perspective and articulate a point of view reflective of great critical thinking. Ultimately a senior leader must able to stand back and answer one singular question… “What value do I add?” And “getting stuff done” is not the answer to this question.
It is interesting to recognise that in many ways success at the top requires an inverse relationship to most of what was required to be successful early on in one’s career. Leaders are schooled in differentiating themselves by being innovative and pushing boundaries. Stand out, make your mark. So you did just that. Along the way you fostered great relationships and you were made a star.
So here’s the irony. After all the hard work that comes with building a profile and gaining visibility, further success actually means moving over and sitting in the cheap seats. After many years of accolades for wins that were directly related to an executive’s investment, it’s time to transition and share not only intellectual capital but actually hand over the glory. The next generation leaders need to be schooled in the intricacies of navigating client relationships, fostering business development and engaging in strategic planning that leads to increased market share. Moving over and becoming a sage advisor is no easy feat for a successful career comprised of ever increasing accomplishments. This requires a big ego—not in the way we traditionally define a big ego, but rather in a way whereby success is now defined by being a steward of the organisation.